What is research?
Research is the careful and methodical search for information, the systematic examination of data, to be able to answer a specific question. Research is a broader term of "information for a fact or topic" and a narrower term from "reading and studying on a topic".
Stages of Research
- Identify your topic: find a topic you understand and interests you or make sure you understand the given topic. Make questions: what do you want to learn? For example, if you are interested to learn about the smoking habits amongst students, ask the question "what is the impact of smoking on the health of students?" Now, identify the main concepts or keywords of your topic. (ex. students, smoking)
- Make a timeline: mark in your calendar the submission deadline for your research project. Try to calculate how much time you will need for every stage of your work and set tasks for every day.
- Think about the format of your project: Will it be in print or electronic format? Will it be a text, oral presentation or audiovisual presentation? This is important because you will need to collect relevant sources.
- Find the definitions for the main concepts or keywords: use dictionaries and encyclopedias.
- Inspiration, independent thinking and mind-mapping: write down your topic in the centre of a white paper. Use colours, images, words and symbols to record ideas, theories, more keywords and anything else relevant to your topic.
- Research in the Library: use the online catalogue to find books, the databases for journal articles, and the print periodicals for magazine articles and news. Use web resources. Take pictures, visit museums and exhibitions, take interviews from family members and friends. Learn how to speed read.
- Evaluate your sources: are they primary or secondary? Are they from valid organisations, specialists on the topic, are they signed and dated?
- Organisation/Synthesis of ideas: use the map from stage 5 for organising your project. Additionally, write down your questions and especially those you think more demanding and challenging.
- Academic integrity: do not forget that you do not copy but process information you retrieve and you always cite your sources no matter its format (text, images).
- Works cited list: write down all your sources in your "works cited list" using the MLA bibliographic style.
- Write your paper: read it again and make corrections.
- Ask for help: if during this process you have questions or encounter any difficulties, do not hesitate to ask your teacher or the school librarians.