How to Gather Sufficient Materials for Research Work

As a student, there are several occasions when we need information, whether for creating a presentation, or a whitepaper, or for our own study purpose. That’s where we need to research information through different ways such as internet surveys, personal interviews, telephone surveys, Google searches, literature from library and others. But how to know that the method we are adopting is the most effective one? This post will inform you about the same.

Research is an important part of a student’s life. Similarly, gathering information for this research is an equally vital responsibility which involves a lot of hard work and due diligence. May be that’s why students dread even the thought of writing research paper. Or they fear not doing complete justice to their subject. This paralysis creates a mental roadblock hindering the progress of the further research. Here are some time tested tips that will assist you in doing research in the right way:

Selecting the right topic

Every research paper has to be on a specific topic. For instance, if your professor tells you to prepare a research paper on environment, select a relevant topic. Make sure that the topic you select is not:

  • Too popular: If too much has already been written about it, there is little scope for new research
  • Too broad: If you chose a topic that is too broad, there will be too much to say about it and you would be facing a dilemma as to what information to include and what to leave in your research

Narrow your topic by applying limiters. Limiters can be anything from the geography of the research to the time period and population. However, make sure not to narrow down the topic to an extent where you find it difficult to find information.

Finding Sources

Library databases

Library databases are one of the best information sources once you get used to them. These databases collect information from publications like newspapers, journals and reference books and they make them searchable by keywords, subject, author, title and publications. They often contain full text articles.

Primary sources: Original works created during the particular time of studies. Examples are autobiographies, letters, official records, speeches, research reports or research data

Secondary sources:  Secondary sources rely on primary sources for information. Examples are evaluations, commentaries, interpretations or discussions of primary sources.

Tertiary Sources:  One more level removed from primary source and generally refer to tools for finding primary and secondary sources. Examples are indexes, databases, library online catalogs and dictionaries.

Students are advised to keep a research log in a notebook or on their computer. Here they record all the resources they find to make it easier to cite sources and refer to them later.

Different types of searches

Literature search

In literature search, one reviews the readily available material such as trade publications, magazines, on-line databases and newspapers. It is a very cost effective way of searching information, although if you are looking for information at an instant. Predictably, searching for the web is the fastest and easiest way.

How to search information on the web?

Internet has a vast database of information. You will find hoards of information on every topic that you can imagine.   However, not all it is useful. Therefore you have to keep in mind various points while researching topics on the web. Most of the information is not regulated on the web and it is user generated content. Neither it is easy to find who exactly authored the content. Even if you find the author’s name, his credentials and qualifications is not that easily available. Sometimes, this information might be biased and opinionated and lack in factual accuracy. Here are some tips to find what you are looking for:

  • First decide the keywords that relate to the topic of your assignment, the better are your keywords, the greater are your chances of finding good information
  • Define your search topic as succinctly as possible
  • Use 6-8 words (mostly noun) in your search topic. Use Boolean operators such as “and”, “or” and exclude keywords using “not” Boolean

You can also take help of e-learning sources  and courses to augment your research. These resources will offer you updated information about the latest in that industry.

Importance of Conversation, Dialogues

If you are in the initial stages of your project, then talking with people can be a good way to get information. Conversing with contacts can help you gather information that is not publicly available, or that is too new to be available in any kind of literature.    For instance, if you meet new prospects, customers and suppliers at events like trade shows, association meetings and seminars, your meeting can help a lot.

Evaluating resources

You need to think about the resources you find and evaluate them before using them in your research. There are three criteria for the same:

  • Reliability: It has two parts; Is the author an expert in the field? Or is the publication respected? Wikipedia or general publications do not fall in this category. You may use Wikipedia to find background information, but it is not considered a reliable source of information to cite in research projects. This is because the content on the site isn’t necessarily written or reviewed by experts in the field.
  • Timeliness: Is the source recent enough to contain the most up-to-date information?
  • Context: Does the source really address your research questions?

Concluding, if you follow all the above explained steps with sincerity chances are high that you will succeed in creating a research paper par excellence.



Author: SmartStudent

SmartStudent is an educational portal that provides information & advice to aspiring students. regarding applying to university, choosing a course, what to take to university, finding student accommodation and much more.

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