I’ve recently been tinkering around with my research method. In the past, I’ve always dreaded doing research and always avoided it in any way I could. Seeing that research has become more and more an essential feature of my everyday work routine, I figured something had to be done to stop the research scourge.
Fortunately, I developed a research method that’s worked well for me — so well, in fact, that I’ve felt the need to share it to see if it works for you. It goes something like this:
Develop a list of keywords
The first thing you’ll want to do is develop a list of search terms that relate to what it is your researching. For example, if I wanted to write an article on good research methods to use, my keyword list would look something like: “research methods”, “best research methods”, “proven research methods”, “note-taking skills”, and “how to research”. There will be some overlap between these terms, but the goal is to create a large number of keywords that are diverse enough to get you all the relevant info you might need.
Find a list of sources using the keywords you’ve developed
Once you have your search terms, you’ll want to go about collecting sources from each of them. You’ll still need to vet for relevancy and legitimacy; however, this step will be greatly simplified by the fact that you’ll have a lot of sources to sift through thanks to your keywords. Rather than continuously having to look up something and check sources only to find that nothing fits, you can get your keywords to give you 10x the amount of sources, and quickly sift through them to find the best ones.
Write notes for each of the sources
Now that you have a good amount of high-quality sources, you can do a new passthrough of actually reading the content. Keep in mind the info that you need, and this step won’t be near as time-consuming. When writing notes, remember to keep it connected to the source that you’re getting it from — this will allow the citation process to be much, much smoother.
Incorporate notes into writing
Finally, you’ll want to simplify your writing process by directly incorporating your notes. By this, I mean you’ll want to first outline your writing, and then place each individual note to the part of the outline it bests corresponds to. This not only provides a better structure for what you want to say, but also allows you to make quick and easy citations.