Whether you’re a high school student or are pursuing graduate studies in a particular subject, your first foray into research will undoubtedly be an important step in your academic career. Doing good research can be a serious challenge for even the brightest students; however, writing a solid research paper can be the highlight of a student’s experience and even the beginning of a rewarding career path. Here are just a few important tips to consider before embarking on your first research project in earnest.
Consider the Scope of Your Research
The first thing to consider when undertaking a research project is the scope of your work. If you’re writing a history paper, for example, you probably won’t want to take on the entirety of American history all in one go.
At the end of the day, research is a labor-intensive form of study; take on too much, and you’ll have to devote most of your time to sitting in the library reading just about everything that you can get your hands on. You’ll probably burn out before your paper is even written!
Instead of overloading yourself from the get-go, try keeping things relatively simple: Find a niche subject in your area of research and stick to that. Manageable work is the name of the game when it comes to research-intensive study.
Consider Your Sources
When it comes to academic research, you will quickly find that not all sources are made equally: There is a big difference between analyzing a paper written by an expert in your field and reading an article in a tabloid newspaper. Credibility is a serious issue in academics, and good researchers always try to think of how credible the information that they’re using is.
For example, try to discover whether today’s leading academics trust the authors you’re reading. When it comes to research, after all, time spent on tenuous claims is often time wasted. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask your teachers or professors about the sources that you’re using.
Manage Your Time
Writing a good research paper requires a lot of planning and time management. This is not the type of project that should be done at the last minute. You’ll want to spend time considering the sources that you’re using and what those sources are claiming. How do the experts in your field view the subject that you’re writing about? How does your own view on the subject challenge these views or conform to them? What special viewpoint do you have on the subject?
Give yourself time and space to really think about the issues that you’re exploring. Enjoy the process, moreover, and you might just discover a passion for advanced academic work!