Every student is required to conduct research in their academic careers at one point or another. A good research paper not only requires a great deal of time, but it also requires complex skills. Research skills include the ability to organize, evaluate, locate, and extract relevant information.
Let’s learn how to develop great research skills for academic success.
What is Research?
We’ve all surely heard the term “research” endlessly. But do you really know what it means?
Research is a type of study that focuses on a specific problem and aims to solve it using scientific methods. Research is a highly systematic process that involves both describing, explaining, and predicting something.
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What are Research Skills?
Research skills are what helps us answer our most burning questions, and they are what assist us in our solving process from A to Z, including searching, finding, collecting, breaking down, and evaluating the relevant information to the phenomenon at hand.
Research is the basis of everything we know — and without it, we’re not sure where we would be today! For starters, without the internet and without cars, that’s for sure.
Why are Research Skills Important?
Research skills come in handy in pretty much everything we do, and especially so when it comes to the workforce. Employers will want to hire you and compensate you better if you demonstrate a knowledge of research skills that can benefit their company.
From knowing how to write reports, how to notice competition, develop new products, identify customer needs, constantly learn new technologies, and improve the company’s productivity, there’s no doubt that research skills are of utter importance. Research also can save a company a great deal of money by first assessing whether making an investment is really worthwhile for them.
How to Get Research Skills
Now that you’re fully convinced about the importance of research skills, you’re surely going to want to know how to get them. And you’ll be delighted to hear that it’s really not so complicated! There are plenty of simple methods out there to gain research skills such as the internet as the most obvious tool.
Gaining new research skills however is not limited to just the internet. There are tons of books, such as Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, journals, articles, studies, interviews and much, much more out there that can teach you how to best conduct your research.
Utilizing Research Skills
Now that you’ve got all the tools you need to get started, let’s utilize these research skills to the fullest. These skills can be used in more ways than you know. Your research skills can be shown off either in interviews that you’re conducting or even in front of the company you’re hoping to get hired at.
It’s also useful to add your list of research skills to your resume, especially if it’s a research-based job that requires skills such as collecting data or writing research-based reports. Many jobs require critical thinking as well as planning ahead.
Career Paths that Require Research Skills
If you’re wondering which jobs actually require these research skills, they are actually needed in a variety of industries. Some examples of the types of work that require a great deal of research skills include any position related to marketing, science, history, report writing, and even the food industry.
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How Students Can Improve Research Skills
Perhaps you know what you have to do, but sometimes, knowing how to do it can be more of a challenge. So how can you as a student improve your research skills?
1. Define your research according to the assignment
By defining your research and understanding how it relates to the specific field of study, it can give more context to the situation.
2. Break down the assignment
The most difficult part of the research process is actually just getting started. By breaking down your research into realistic and achievable parts, it can help you achieve your goals and stay systematic.
3. Evaluate your sources
While there are endless sources out there, it’s important to always evaluate your sources and make sure that they are reliable, based on a variety of factors such as their accuracy and if they are biased, especially if used for research purposes.
4. Avoid plagiarism
Plagiarism is a major issue when it comes to research, and is often misunderstood by students. IAs a student, it’s important that you understand what plagiarism really means, and if you are unclear, be sure to ask your teachers.
5. Consult and collaborate with a librarian
A librarian is always a good person to have around, especially when it comes to research. Most students don’t seek help from their school librarian, however, this person tends to be someone with a vast amount of knowledge when it comes to research skills and where to look for reliable sources.
6. Use library databases
There are tons of online library resources that don’t require approaching anyone. These databases are generally loaded with useful information that has something for every student’s specific needs.
7. Practice effective reading
It’s highly beneficial to practice effective reading, and there are no shortage of ways to do it. One effective way to improve your research skills it to ask yourself questions using a variety of perspectives, putting yourself in the mind of someone else and trying to see things from their point of view.
There are many critical reading strategies that can be useful, such as making summaries from annotations, and highlighting important passages.
A thesis is a specific theory or statement that is to be either proved or maintained. Generally, the intentions of a thesis are stated, and then throughout, the conclusions are proven to the reader through research. A thesis is crucial for research because it is the basis of what we are trying to prove, and what guides us through our writing.
What Skills Do You Need To Be A Researcher?
One of the most important skills needed for research is independence, meaning that you are capable of managing your own work and time without someone looking over you.
Critical thinking, problem solving, taking initiative, and overall knowing how to work professionally in front of your peers are all crucial for effectively conducting research.
1. Fact check your sources
Knowing how to evaluate information in your sources and determine whether or not it’s accurate, valid or appropriate for the specific purpose is a first on the list of research skills.
2. Ask the right questions
Having the ability to ask the right questions will get you better search results and more specific answers to narrow down your research and make it more concise.
3. Dig deeper: Analyzing
Don’t just go for the first source you find that seems reliable. Always dig further to broaden your knowledge and make sure your research is as thorough as possible.
4. Give credit
Respect the rights of others and avoid plagiarizing by always properly citing your research sources.
5. Utilize tools
There are endless tools out there, such as useful websites, books, online videos, and even on-campus professionals such as librarians that can help. Use all the many social media networks out there to both gain and share more information for your research.
Summarizing plays a huge role in research, and once the data is collected, relevant information needs to be arranged accordingly. Otherwise it can be incredibly overwhelming.
Not only does information need to be summarized, but also arranged into categories that can help us organize our thoughts and break down our materials and sources of information.
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What Are Different Types of Research?
This type of research is exploratory research and its aim is to obtain a better understanding of reasons for things. Qualitative research helps form an idea without any specific fixed pattern. Some examples include face-to-face interviews or group discussions.
Quantitative research is based on numbers and statistics. This type of research uses data to prove facts, and is generally taken from a large group of people.
Analytical research has to always be done from a neutral point of view, and the researcher is intended to break down all perspectives. This type of research involves collecting information from a wide variety of sources.
Persuasive research describes an issue from two different perspectives, going through both the pros and cons of both, and then aims to prove their preference towards one side by exploring a variety of logical facts.
5. Cause & Effect
In this type of research, the cause and effects are first presented, and then a conclusion is made. Cause and effect research is for those who are new in the field of research and is mostly conducted by high school or college students.
6. Experimental Research
Experimental research involves very specific steps that must be followed, starting by conducting an experiment. It is then followed by sharing an experience and providing data about it. This research is concluded with data in a highly detailed manner.
7. Survey Research
Survey research includes conducting a survey by asking participants specific questions, and then analyzing those findings. From that, researchers can then draw a conclusion.
8. Problem-Solution Research
Both students and scholars alike carry out this type of research, and it involves solving problems by analyzing the situation and finding the perfect solution to it.
What it Takes to Become a Researcher
- Critical thinking
Research is most valuable when something new is put on the table. Critical thinking is needed to bring something unique to our knowledge and conduct research successfully.
- Analytical thinking
Analytical thinking is one of the most important research skills and requires a great deal of practice. Such a skill can assist researchers in taking apart and understanding a large amount of important information in a short amount of time.
- Explanation skills
When it comes to research skills, it’s not just about finding information, but also about how you explain it. It’s more than just writing it out, but rather, knowing how to clearly and concisely explain your new ideas.
- Patience is key
Just like with anything in life, patience will always take you far. It might be difficult to come by, but by not rushing things and investing the time needed to conduct research properly, your work is bound for success.
- Time management
Time is the most important asset that we have, and it can never be returned back to us. By learning time management skills, we can utilize our time in the best way possible and make sure to always be productive in our research.
What You Need to Sharpen Your Research Skills
Research is one of the most important tasks that students are given in college, and in many cases, it’s almost half of the academic grade that one is given.
As we’ve seen, there are plenty of things that you’ll need to sharpen your research skills — which mainly include knowing how to choose reliable and relevant sources, and knowing how to take them and make it your own. It’s important to always ask the right questions and dig deeper to make sure that you understood the full picture.