An investigator is characterized by being curious, organized, and meticulous. If you are trying to carry out a research project, you will improve your results by methodically finding, evaluating, and documenting resources. Define, refine, and outline your materials until you have enough evidence to write a conclusive report.
Part 1 of 5: Define the scope of the project
Step 1. Define a good reason why this research should be done
Clarify who it will help. The answer could be based on your academic, personal or professional needs, but it should be your motivation to do a thorough job.
Step 2. Define the question or problem you will address
You will have to decompose the question in basic terms, time periods and disciplines. Write down any side questions that need research before you can answer them.
Step 3. Consider your thesis
Generally, a thesis is the answer to the general topic or question you ask. You should have an idea of how you want to use your research; however, you do not need to be totally clear on this to start the project.
Step 4. Submit a research proposal if required by your teacher, employer or group
A research proposal is generally required for projects lasting more than a few weeks.
- For scientific reports, degree projects and field investigations you will have to present a research proposal that raises the problem that you would like to solve through your research.
- First pose the problem, then explain why this problem is relevant and important to the people to whom you will send your research.
- Mention the types of research you would like to undertake, including: reading, surveys, collecting statistical data, or working with specialists.
Step 5. Define the scope of your project and parameters
Before you begin, you will need to determine the following points:
- The schedule for the development of the investigation. You will need a timeline to cover all the basics.
- A list of topics that you should include in your final report. If you have a program or official assignment, it should explain the scope.
- The schedule of reviews by teachers or principals so that you can meet progress checks as you progress with your project.
- The number of fonts that are needed. Generally, the number of fonts is in proportion to the size of your document.
- The format of your research list, references, and a list of other works you cite.
Part 2 of 5: Find the Resources
Step 1. Search the internet with basic search engines
Type in the basic terms of your research question to get a basic understanding of the topic.
- Prioritize reference websites for universities, scientists, government research projects, and specialized publications.
- Make a list of exceptional resources that you would like to cite.
- Use the plus sign (+) to find different terms used together. For example: "Christmas + Box Day".
- Use the minus sign (-) to exclude search terms. For example: "+ Christmas -shopping".
- Collects information about the website, such as the date of publication, the entity that publishes and the date of consultation; also the url.
Step 2. Go to the library
If possible, use your own university library. If you don't have access to a larger library, apply for a membership card at the public library.
- In the inquiries section, ask the librarian about the collections, articles, and dictionaries that library can access. For example, the directory of the Library of Congress (E. E. U. U.) will give you access to all the books that were published on a subject.
- Check the background in historical books and photographs, read the definitions in a recognized dictionary.
- Use the electronic card catalog to access books from other libraries.
- Use the computer room to access specialized publications and other resources available only in the library. For example, you may be able to access some scientific articles only from library computers.
- Look in the media room to review other sources such as: microfiche, films, and interviews available in the library.
- Request any promising material at the inquiry desk or through your online library account.
Step 3. Plan interviews with people who have first-hand experience with the research topic
Interviews and surveys can provide you with references, guidance, and statistics to complement your research. Interview experts, witnesses, and professionals who have previously conducted relevant investigations.
Step 4. Organize a face-to-face investigation
Make a visit to a relevant place to collect information, this can help you establish the background in your research project. If you are allowed to include opinions in your report, you will want to highlight the research process and the changes that arise from your perspective.
Step 5. Refine your search as you develop direction in your research
When you decide on the approach of your thesis, you should break it down into secondary topics that you can research on the internet, in a library, through interviews or through face-to-face studies. Remember that you will likely need at least 6 reliable sources for every 15 pages of your final report.
Part 3 of 5: Evaluate Sources
Step 1. Analyze if the source is primary or secondary
Primary sources are evidence, artifacts, or documents that originated from people who were in direct contact with a certain situation. Secondary sources are those that discuss information from primary sources.
A secondary source could be any point of view or analysis of a historical event or document. For example, an immigration record would be a primary source, while a newspaper article about a family's genealogy would be a secondary source
Step 2. Prioritize sources that are objective versus subjective sources
If the narrator of a story does not have a personal connection to the topic, he is more likely to be objective.
Step 3. Give preference to printed fonts
Generally, internet sources follow less strict controls than articles published in magazines or books.
Step 4. Look for sources that contrast the information
Subjective sources that take opposing points of view can be vitally important because they can give a broader perspective on the subject. Find the weak points of your arguments and establish alternatives to reinforce them.
It is easy to carry out research to support your thesis. Try to find resources that disagree with your approach so that you can better handle objections to your project
Step 5. Evaluate whether the source is relevant or wrong before using it in your research project
Consider your sources separately until you define which of them will be part of your project. Even if a source serves the research process, some resources will not be of much value to support published research.
Part 4 of 5: Record the information
Step 1. Take notes in a notebook
Write the questions your research raises. Then write down the sources and answers you find. Mention page numbers, internet addresses, and sources that answer those questions.
Step 2. Make annotations in your texts
Make a photocopy of your printed sources and take written or audible notes. Use the space outside the margins to jot down any concepts that require definition, whatever is important to your research topic, and any mutually supportive sources.
- Use a highlighter or pencil to write on the photocopies. It is better to do it while you are reading the material rather than afterwards.
- Annotations promote active reading.
- Have a list of references that could help you in your report.
Step 3. Save all parts of your research in folders
Depending on the different topics, separate your work into folders if possible. You can also use an electronic storage system, such as Evernote, to store scanned pages, websites, and notes.
Step 4. Develop an outline as you go along
Separate the topics you need to decompose with numbers. Then, assign a letter to each subtopic on which you need to research and write your report.
Part 5 of 5: Overcome Obstacles
Step 1. Avoid overloading yourself
Do not use generalizations that have been addressed in previous research papers as the basis for your thesis. Try not to assume that an older approach is the only one.
Stop working on your research for a few days so you can see it with a fresh perspective. Rest every week, just like you would with your work
Step 2. Talk about your research with someone who doesn't know anything about it
Try to explain your findings. Ask this person to ask questions that come up as you tell them about the topic; This will allow you to see your work with a fresh perspective.
Step 3. Try to find sources of information in different disciplines
If you have approached a topic from an anthropological perspective, try reviewing reports in areas such as: sociology, biology or others. Increase your sources through the consultation section of your library.
Step 4. Start writing
Start filling out your outline. As you write, you will decide which sections require further investigation.