An Introductory Lesson on How to Do Basic Research
Oct 15, 2009 Lesson Planning 4775 Views
Research is difficult, whether for academic, professional, or even personal use. Period. Most people find it a very tedious task to perform. With such a vast assortment of internet resources, it can cause a headache trying to distinguish between legitimate sources and those that are bogus. There is a technique to doing online research, but it does take time and patience.
Research always begins with a general topic. Beginning my research depends on multiple variables, including what the topic is, the type of research being done, my current amount of knowledge on the subject, the purpose of the research, and who my audience will be, if any. I generally start with the basics. I check Wikipedia and a couple other encyclopedia type websites. Typically, these sources have decent information; however, they sometimes lack the proper references, which can sometimes indicate lack of validity. I usually assess the information obtained here carefully and skeptically. This preliminary research simply helps me become familiar with the topic on a non-specific or general, introductory level.
By using this method, I ordinarily have the ability to obtain more detail about my research topic to proceed further into the research process. I prefer to take notes of key points that may be relevant to my research. Using these notes, I then use Google to search for additional detailed information. This can be done by using quotations around specific phrases directed toward uncovering facts on a more specific level or narrowing down broad research to a particular information set your research requires. For example, if one was attempting to research a certain type a frog, one could begin by using the methods previously discussed. Then, through a search engine, upon reviewing the relevant notes, type in the search bar- "poison dart frogs" "reproductive system" "gestation period"- using the quotations to obtain more detailed information relevant to the required topic. I find that it is important, in many cases, to reword or rephrase the search words or arrangement of the words. When necessary, I use a thesaurus to find word substitutions that may more adequately facilitate my search.
It is also important to review the source of the information. Is it reliable and creditable? For example, using information found on an individual's blog may not be accurate. However, using facts found from a renowned source, such as National Geographic, is most likely safer regarding accuracy. To, more or less, eliminate this concern, one can do an advanced search, including limiting search results to show only information discovered from educational (*.edu) or government (*.gov) websites, which tend to display accurate information.
Additional great resources to have access to are university archives and library databases. Individuals are eligible to purchase some of these software programs, such as LexisNexis, the CINAHL databases, and EBSCO Publishing, directly from the companies that provide them. Another option is simply to brainstorm on which alternate resources (such as organizations or institutes) may contain legitimate information on the topic you are searching for. Then, you may simply go directly to their websites and complete a web search on their individual sites.
There are many techniques of successfully research for nearly any subject one could conceive of. These are some basic introductory guidelines for those who feel overwhelmed with sorting through all the information available in cyberspace. With patience, effort, and adequate time, you can satisfactorily find the information you desire... or you can recruit someone to do all the tedious, time-consuming, or extensive research for you!