Research Tips

Research & Academic Writing

Planning your research

So you understand the purpose and constitution of research…so what do you do next? It’s important to be strategic regarding your research project. If you wnat to be efficient, and ensure you use your time wisely, I advise developing a strategy for your research project. To start with: consult background secondary research.

Start with background secondary research:

If you are completing an essay assignment, this may have already been discussed in your class. Nonetheless, it’s worth selecting some additional secondary sources and trying to consider what the various themes and arguments are within them (as they pertain to your research question).

Consider the questions you want to answer

You might have been assigned a question to answer in your essay by your lecturer. Or, you might be developing the question yourself (thiis often happens at postgraduate level). Whichever is true, either work deductively or inductively considering which questions you’d like to answer. Consider the following:

What do I want to know? – What are the main questions which I need to answer (at this point)

What do I already know? – What do I already know about this topic. Which questions can I already answer?

How can I fill that gap? – Find resources which answer those questions and spur you to consider further questions which are related to your project.

The next step is to find resources which will help you fill that gap. To do this, you need to consider things like:

  • the keywords which are most suitable for your project
  • the databases and platforms available for you to search within
  • different ‘codes’ or tricks you can use to find the most effective resources

For help with this – take a look at the ‘search strategy page’ here.

Resources

How to begin research, using the research strategy (video)

How to link primary and secondary sources in your research (video)
This was written for dissertation level, but useful for any research including primary sources.

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