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Conducting Research for a Successful Essay

In order to write a good essay, you have to get properly prepared. An effective research is a foundation for an excellent piece of writing. Moreover, it is as important as the writing part itself.

Many students try to save time on this vital stage or go to the library without being aware of where to start, which substantially reduces the quality of their essays. However, a comprehensive research is your chance to get ahead of your colleagues, and in this article, you will learn how you can do it. The article will provide you help writing essay by taking you through the basic steps you need to follow so that you can effectively plan your research time and write a meaningful research as a result.

Allow Enough Time for Each of the Stages

You should make sure you have enough time for your research and the writing part, so you don’t need to rush your work.

As your research may take considerable time, it’s vital to start doing it as early as possible. When you are lacking time you fail to conduct an adequate research before you start writing, and it will most likely lead to the poor quality of your essay. The amount of time needed for your research will vary depending on your academic level, your overall knowledge of the topic, and what you have been taught. However, in most cases, it takes more time than you may think. When conducting your research, you may come across new ideas and concepts that will require further exploring. Therefore, it’s better to set aside a little more time for it. After all, if you complete your research earlier, this spare time will be very useful at the editing stage.   

Make Sure You Understand the Essay Question

Only a thorough understanding of the essay question will guide you the right direction when doing your research. Otherwise, you will put yourself at risk of being carried away and not addressing the question properly. You should read the question several times, identify the keywords and pull out the basic points referred to in the question. Your essay question can give you certain instructions on how you should approach your research. The examples of the keywords that often appear in the essay questions include “compare” and “discuss.” These words give you different directions. If you have to compare certain points in your essay, you should look for the specific information appropriate for comparison when doing your research. If you are asked to discuss, your research may be focused on studying various points of view and formulating your own.  

Start With a Brainstorming Session

Brainstorming is a great way to organize the knowledge that you already have and develop new thoughts and ideas.

You may start your research by brainstorming what you already know about the subject. It will help you be clear about what information you have and identify whether there are any gaps in your knowledge. Once you systemize the information in this way, you won’t waste your time on reading the books that will give you nothing new. Instead, you will specify the direction of your research and focus your efforts on finding out the things you need the most. Brainstorming will also give you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the task and set the right framework in your mind for learning the topic you have been assigned.

Ensure You Have a Basic Understanding before Digging Deeper

If the topic is unfamiliar to you, but you have a few ideas after your brainstorming session, you should take some time to learn the basic information about your topic before you immerse yourself into the research. If you neglect this part and begin your research by jumping straight into the depth, you will struggle to comprehend the topic all the way through. Moreover, you may get swayed by some of your sources and end up failing to address the question properly. In order to critically assess each of the sources you read and quickly identify whether they are relevant, you need comprehensive background knowledge.

Study Your Reading List

Tutors often provide reading lists along with the written assignments. If you have been given this list, you should make sure to work through all the sources on it. Try to obtain as many books from the list as you can in advance so that they are at hand when you need to refer to them or compare with other sources and perspectives. You should carefully plan your work in order to devote enough time to each book. The more focused you will be, the more useful information you will get from the books. When prioritizing your reading, you may start with the more general sources and gradually move to more specialized literature. Similar to the inverted pyramid, your work will be wide at the top and get narrower with each step. This is a useful approach that you may apply in your research.  

Ask a Librarian

Some students may feel lost at the beginning of their work in a library. Library computer databases may cause much confusion and stress if you are not familiar with them. If you don’t want to add complexity to your research, you should not be afraid to ask the librarian for help. They are there for a reason and can quickly show you where a particular book you are looking for is located. If you need more information, the librarian can direct you to the relevant sections where you can browse through the books that are likely to contribute to your research.

Use the Index

Finding relevant information in a book may be tricky, especially if you have dozens of books to read through. Therefore, you should use the index or the table of contents. It may seem obvious, but some students don’t do it for some reason, but rather struggle their way through numerous pages of irrelevant text before they come across something that can be used in their essays.

However, if you feel too overwhelmed with your reading and writing, you always have an opportunity to get help writing essay.  

Take Notes

Making a good set of notes is very useful not only for your essay but also your further studying. If you have written some information yourself, the details and their context will be much easier for you to remember and refer to when necessary.

When doing your research, you are supposed to work through a large amount of literature. Therefore, it is recommended to take notes along your way, as you would hardly remember all the information you have read. You should not write down everything, but only the short pieces of text or phrases that will help you answer the essay question. If you make your notes too vast, you will waste much of your precious time, and you also risk creating an essay that is stuffed with irrelevant facts. Such an essay is not going to bring you high marks.

You should be concise when making notes, and summarize the arguments in your own words. It helps you learn the material a lot better, as you already start thinking about it at the stage of making notes.

Moreover, your notes will also help you in the long term, when it’s time for a revision or when you will be taking your exam. That’s why you should keep your notes organized.

Research all Sides of the Argument

Only one source is usually not enough for a solid background of your essay. A narrow approach will not make you a successful student. You should be able to formulate a balanced argument in your essay, which means considering a range of perspectives on the issue or topic you are researching. You should note down different arguments accompanied with the respective facts and evidence so that they are ready to be included into your essay structure. When studying various sources, you will come across the names of the scholars, writers, or other famous people. If any of these names appear again and again, it is worth finding out more about these individuals. Influential figures create the context of your topic and understanding the context is vital in your academic studies.  

Keep a Dictionary Close to You

It is all right if you come across the word you don’t know. What is particularly important is that you need to consult all the unknown words in the dictionary. It’s possible to completely misunderstand a certain point if you don’t know the meaning of the keyword in the sentence. Therefore, when conducting research, you should always keep a dictionary close to you. It will allow you not to get stuck when you don’t know a word. Besides, you will be able to thoroughly understand what you are reading and expand your vocabulary that will help writing essay in the future.

Formulate Your Own Opinion

While you learn different points of view, you should carefully analyze the information you have read and note down your personal response to different opinions. Be critical and question the sources to ensure you are not just repeating the opinions of other authors without trying to challenge them. When studying someone’s point of view, you should ask yourself:

  • Does this opinion make sense?

  • Does the author provide enough evidence to back it up?

  • Are there any counterarguments, and which of them appear most convincing?

If you use these techniques when conducting your research, you will be able to demonstrate your own intelligent thinking that will give a substantial advantage to your essay.

Be Careful When Conducting Online Research

If the biggest part of your research is conducted online, the best strategy is to use reliable academic resources. Remember that Wikipedia should never be referenced in an essay.  

Although you are free to use Wikipedia or any other online sources to get an overall understanding of a topic, you should be very cautious when using the information from the Internet for your research. Wikipedia should not be taken as gospel, as it can be edited by anybody. In general, it is not recommended to use the information you found on the Internet as the basis of your research. Online resources usually lack academic rigorousness, and you may not know whether a particular website is relevant or outdated. Online research may be all right at high school, but it will definitely not be enough at the university. However, some reliable academic resources, such as online libraries, can still be used. The best thing you can do is take an intelligent approach and reasonably combine both online and offline resources.

Read the Footnotes

Any academic publication, whether it is a book or an article in a journal, contains footnotes that are a really great source that can direct you to further articles and publications that may be useful in your research. Authors often argue with or support the ideas of other academics, and when you use the information in the footnotes, you will be able to look up the texts the authors refer to. You may include these opinions in your essay, comment on them, and they will bring you some additional points.

Organize Your Own References Timely

Almost all kinds of essays require properly organized academic references. As you study different materials, you will find numerous points that you may want to include in your essay. You should make sure you carefully note down where you have found each of the points. The information about the source should include:

  • The author’s name

  • The title of the publication

  • The publisher

  • The date of the publication and the page number

When writing an academic essay, you are required to indicate all your sources very precisely, so making detailed notes is definitely a good habit.

If you forget to make notes as you go along, you may have a hard time trying to remember where you have found any specific point. Therefore, by noting down your academic references, you will save yourself plenty of time and effort. If you are including footnotes in your text, you shouldn’t forget to mention each publication in the main reference list at the end of your essay.      

The background work that is required to create a good essay may seem troublesome and time-consuming. However, this vital step cannot be skipped. All the effort that you put in at the research phase will eventually make your essay better and easier to write. Use the tips in this article to make your essays more impressive or seek help writing essay to get all the work done for you.

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