When you think research, you probably think about university
projects and seminars. Interestingly, though, it exceeds just that. Research is
a logical and systematic search for new and useful information on a particular
topic. Because we encounter new problems, events and phenomena every day, we
need to research practical and implementable solutions and suggestions.
Research can be broadly classified under two main categories:
Basic Research and Applied Research. Basic research involves getting
information on basic principles and reasons for the occurrence of a particular
event, process or phenomenon, usually for just the knowledge and not the
application of the concept. Applied research involves solving certain problems
by employing known theories and principles.
Whatever the type of research you are embarking upon, the
method for researching are the same on some level. The following points will come
in handy in an effort to make effective research:
- Identify and develop your topic: Most likely you already have a topic that you want to get information about. Once that is ready, rephrase it as a question. This will make it easier for you to identify the main concepts or keywords to be used in your research. Note that you can generate more than one question.
for general information on the topic: Rather than diving straight into the deep
end of the information pool on your research topic, you will be better served
by starting off with the general information available. This will give you an
idea of how much you expect to learn at the end of the research period. You can
get this using online resources. Take care to note down the resources you
intend to use.
your search: Most likely the general data you collated is extremely broad. The
next step is to pick the resources that are relevant to the subject matter. If
you are not sure which resource or material is relevant, go back to the
question(s) you came up with in step 1. Ask yourself: Does this material answer
that question? You can also refine your question(s) based on the information
you find. This is good if you discover that your question(s) is(are) too narrow.
for your resources: I should be safe in assuming that the primary source of
your resources would be gotten from the Internet. In that case, the Google
search engine should be your first option. There are a few tips to getting
necessary materials. If you need to look up exact phrases or names, then you
can put them in quotation marks (” “). For example, if you search ‘
“tiger nuts” ‘ on Google, you will get only results containing the word
‘tiger’ followed by the word ‘nuts’. You can do that for multiple parameters. Wikipedia
is another extremely helpful resource. You can search on the site for your
topic. The best part of Wikipedia is the available references at the bottom of
the page. Say you see a portion of a page that interests you, usually there is
a small number following it. Clicking on it takes you to the reference table
showing the URL (link) to the source. You can check this link to get more
information on the topic. Google books and Project Muse (muse.jhu.edu) also contain
very helpful materials, books and articles if needed.
your resources: This is the most important part of your research. You need to
evaluate the reliability of the sources else you be misinformed. You can do
this using the CRAAP test. CRAAP is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority,
Accuracy and Purpose. Briefly, ‘Currency’ how recent the material is.
‘Reliability’ evaluates how dependable the material is, checking if it is
simply an opinion or a fact. ‘Authority’ evaluates the author, that is his/her
knowledge and experience on the subject matter. ‘Accuracy’ evaluates if the
content has been verified by a third party or has evidence to support it.
‘Purpose’ evaluates the intention of the material. Performing this test will
help make sure your newfound knowledge is accurate.
From here on in, you have a good number of accurate
materials. Depending on your need, or the type of research you are embarking
upon, you should decide how to proceed next. If it is purely for self knowledge,
you can take a few notes while going through the resources. If it is an
academic work, you will need to arrange the material as necessary depending on
what you are working on. Note that this process usually takes some time to
complete, so be patient. It is always worth it in the end.