Congratulations! You’ve successfully selected your research topic. Now that you’ve finished that task, the real work begins!
This is a part of the process that you do not want to procrastinate on! Even if you wait till the last few weeks to write your actual paper, it is the research process itself that is going to put you behind and slow you down! Trust me. You definitely want to get ahead of the game when it comes to this part of your research project because without your solid research, you won’t have any CONTENT for your paper! Here are some tips on how to start your research and manage your sources...so you can avoid looking like this when it comes to writing...
FIND GOOD SOURCES
When it comes to writing a research paper, your sources are EVERYTHING. All of your ideas and content are going to come from these sources; so to start off strong, you need SOLID sources! You want to focus on scholarly resources such as books and journal articles that are recent, credible, and legitimate. Don’t rely on google or wikipedia when it comes to your research project! They may be easier to find, but they will hurt you in the end!
2. USE THE LIBRARY & RESEARCH LIBRARIANS
When finding your sources, you should utilize your library’s online databases...and guess what, your actual library’s books. Those book stacks may look scary, but find what you need through the library’s online database and work from there. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the actual stacks, get help from the research librarians. They’re always around and waiting to help those who are willing to ask! The library is a great place to check out countless books, get help, or simply work on your research paper. I promise you, the smell of books will immediately make you feel smarter, and your research paper will thank you for it!
3. READ YOUR SOURCES
Thoroughly. Read. Them. Just checking out books or saving online journal articles is not enough. If you really want to get ahead of the game, you need to read your sources word for word, page for page, chapter by chapter.... You get the point. Go all out when going through your sources. Use highlighters, pens, and post-it notes to mark what you need! Doing this will help you make the most out of your time while looking for material that is relevant to your research topic. You’re going to be a lot happier that things are marked when you’re looking for quotes and references once you begin the actual writing process!
4. STAY ORGANIZED
I’m naturally a messy person, and it only gets worse when I’m busy. So, you can only imagine what the stresses of research do to me. Whether you’re organized or like me, do your best to ORGANIZE your research! I’m talking about your sources and the material that you’ve already gone through. Remember when I said highlight and markup those pages? Well, you need to do MORE than that. Keep a log of all of your sources and their page numbers so you can keep a list of what topics/sections of your paper they will be useful for. This will save you tons of time when you’re writing your paper because you’ll have a quick reference to everything you need.
Follow these tips and you’ll be typing away in no time! Good luck!