5 Ways to Research Efficiently

Research papers can be daunting.

boy pushing away homework
Research? Maybe later..

You might feel like there is just so much information about the topic you’ve chosen and you don’t feel like you could possible read it all!  There aren’t enough hours in a day!  Well, we’ve got some tips for you!

girl holding stack of books

5. Define and refine your research question

You need to know what you are researching in order to research it.  Your research question should be specific enough for the topic to fit into the particular length of your essay. Ensure that your research question asks an interesting question because you’ll be spending a lot of time thinking about it – you wouldn’t want to get bored!

  1. Assess the abstract

If you are using online scholarly journals, you will save yourself a lot of time by reading the abstract first!  Abstracts give you an incredibly short summary of the paper, including the results and conclusions. This will help you determine if the paper will help answer your research question.

  1. Take a look at the table of contents

If you are using a book, the table of contents is your friend. The titles of chapters usually give you a good understanding of the information covered in the text, and those page numbers certainly do help as well!

  1. Head for the headings

If you are reading an article with headings, read them first!  Headings are designed to break up the information into manageable chunks and you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for much more easily.

  1. Skim for specific sentences

You don’t have to read every word.  Only read the first and last sentence of each paragraph to get a general idea of the article and how it can help you.  This will save you an enormous amount of time and energy.  When you find a paragraph that has the potential to help you with your paper.  Read it carefully, put the important details into your own words, and always remember your citation rules to avoid plagiarism!

So next time you look at that stack of books and think, “I can’t possible get through all of that!” remember these tips, tell yourself, “I can!” and research efficiently!

Need help implementing these strategies on an upcoming essay or paper?  We can help!  Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space is launching an online Essay Coach program to help you develop skills and conquer that essay! 


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