When you need to do research, it’s sometimes tempting to jump in and start looking for information right away. To do research well, however—to find appropriate sources and use them wisely—you need to work systematically. Doing research is complex and time-consuming, so it’s good to establish a schedule for yourself. Research-based writing projects usually require you to come up with a topic (or to analyze the requirements of an assigned topic). You’ll need to do preliminary research to come up with a research question to guide your research efforts. Here we have 20 research guides on various academic fields to help you start your research.
Useful Research Guides in 20 Fields
- Aging Research Guide
- Business & Economics Research Guide
- Criminal Justice Research Guide
- Ecology & Environment Research Guide
- Education Research Guide
- Film & Television Research Guide
- Health & Medicine Research Guide
- History Research Guide
- Law Research Guide
- Literature Research Guide
- Mathematics Research Guide
- Music Research Guide
- Nursing Research Guide
- Political Science Research Guide
- Psychology Research Guide
- Religion & Theology Research Guide
- Science & Technology Research Guide
- Sports Research Guide
- Theater and Dance Research Guide
- Women Studies Research Guide
Finding the Sources
At this point we suppose you did some early research to find a topic for your paper. Now it’s time to revisit those sources to explore them some more. You’ve already done some early research, taking a quick look at an encyclopedia and the Internet. Although you won’t take notes yet, these sources will help you gain important background information. This exploratory research tells you know where you’re going and what to look for when you do your actual research—a topic we’ll discuss next.
Searching the Internet
The Internet, with its speed and ubiquity, has made research much easier than it once was. Thanks to the Internet, you have a library of millions of sources at your disposal 24 hours a day. This abundance of research, however, can be overwhelming. Today the problem is not how to find research material but how to work your way through the thousands (or even millions) of documents that turn up in your search. Enter a search word or phrase about a topic, any topic, into Google, Bing, or whatever your favorite search engine might be, and in seconds you will be presented with pages upon pages of two-line summaries of articles that contain it. Google and other search engines “weight” the results by putting the most likely matches at the top, but the chore of finding the perfect source to meet your research needs is still left to you. Learn how to conduct online research.
Using Library and Database Resources
Many times instructors will recommend, or even require, that student researchers avoid the popular search engines and, instead, take their search for information to the library. A visit to the library can transform your research efforts from simple look-ups into an educational experience that reveals many more resources that are open to you. Learn how to use a library.
Conducting Original Research
Original research is research you conduct rather than find in books or articles. It is also called primary research because it starts with you. If you plan to conduct primary research, like an experiment, personal interviews, or a survey of people, you will need to devise a basic methodology for your inquiry. Learn how to conduct original research.