As a global society, we tend to give the impression that STEM is something you should go after whereas the Humanities are something you should avoid. I think this is unfair for two reasons: firstly, there’s the obvious case that people tend to either swing one way or the other, and that pushing people all on one end isn’t productive for those who would rather spend time in the Humanities block. Secondly, I don’t think we give Humanities the credit it deserves.
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.
Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high-quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
School is an unfortunate thing we all have to go through. For some reason, a bunch of bureaucrats at some point decided that the best way to get people to learn was to put them all in a room for a few hours every week, regurgitate facts to them, and then test them on these facts based on an arbitrary points system. While we all know now that this isn’t the way learning works, the system has stuck. Fortunately for us, thanks to the system in place, there are some easy ways to game things to make sure you are well optimized to receiving the highest number of “points” for whatever class you take.
Generally, there are three categories of classes: vocabulary, practical, and essay/project. Vocabulary is definitely the easiest and most straight-forward, practical is more time consuming but isn’t too difficult, and e/p can tend to be a more complex/vague variant. Typically, people will always find vocabulary to be the easiest, but when it comes to practical vs e/p it tends to depend on the person. Of course, the first challenge of this is determining which category your class fits into. Some classes are pretty straightforward — math classes will almost always be practical, and writing classes will almost always be e/p – but a lot of it will depend on the subject of your class and what school system you are based under. Since this is a topic all on its own, I’ll mostly skip over this step and go into the best practices for each category.
Like I had mentioned previously, vocabulary classes are the most straightforward; simply memorize the vocabulary. Some classes are simple and give you a list of terms at the beginning, whereas others attempt to increase artificial difficulty by making the terms a bit harder to find. Still, you should be able to find decent hints to what the vocabulary words are via the textbook, lectures, and any assignments in the class. Worst comes to worst, you’ll have to use the first test as a practice play in order to figure out where to best look for these words. Once you have them, put them through a system like Quizlet or Anki to study them optimally; regular studying time with these apps will allow you to retain knowledge of the terms for an exceptional amount of time.
For practicals, the process is much longer but tends to be more rewarding, as constant practice is actually a pretty valid way of learning something. This category consists of concepts that need to be practiced via exercises to be optimally remembered. There are two challenges that come up with this process. The first is that, depending on the class, you may run out of exercises before you actually feel you have a solid grasp on the material. For some classes, you can simply go outside your textbook or homework and find more on the internet; for other more obscure classes, this can be a decent challenge. The second is that depending on the intensity of the course, your professor may end up just utilizing the concepts and chaining multiple ones together to create a much more complex problem than you’ve seen in previous exercises. This obstacle can be mitigated by having a strong understanding of what each question is asking; if you know the concepts well, you can understand what the exercise is no matter what is being asked.
The final category, and in my opinion the hardest to master, is essay/project. These classes tend to be a lot more fluid and non-direct compared the others; however, since the “points” need to be established somehow, there are still some ways to get past this. The first is through the rubric, which should (hopefully) be given to you at the beginning of your assignment. Other, more helpful professors may even add a list of requirements for the essay or project in the description of the assignment itself. The problem is that, unlike these previous categories, simply doing what is in the rubric or description won’t be enough. Many of these pieces are left purposely vague, which will further complicate things. The number one thing you need to do in classes like these is read between the lines. Most essays/projects will have a set structure whether or not they’re explicitly mentioned in the guidelines themselves; what you’ll have to do is look at examples, descriptions, and lectures to understand what the structure is.
Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.