Are you struggling to go about your academic research? It’s truly not an easy task, everyone is easily distracted by popular sources. At the same time, academic research tends to be rather overwhelming. Find out how to conduct an easy academic research for any topic.
Your research starts with your topic
Before you could start any sort of research, you will need a topic, of course. Pick a broad topic to begin with and narrow it down with initial research.
Academic research is supposed to solve problems and to cast a light on areas that have been untouched – until you’ve come along. At university, academic research usually aims at you dealing with certain topics more in-depth.
That means, whatever you’ve learned at lectures you have to take a closer look at.
Hence, you may be provided with a choice of topics. Later on when you graduate, you can choose topics yourself and of course, even afterwards.
Since academic research can be quite demanding it’s best to choose a topic you have a keen interest in. It keeps your motivation up even on days when you feel you can’t be bothered to research.
Ultimately, there’s little use in writing a paper on a topic you have no interest in. It wouldn’t bring you to the next level, but rather impose itself as a time-waster for your intellect. Take advantage of your intellect and find out something that’s really interesting.
Sources for your initial research
Your initial research may include so-called popular sources, such as newspaper articles. Be aware, you can’t use most articles found in newspapers or trade magazines.
They are usually not written by experts and are laced with personal opinions. Personal Beliefs or commentary is the last thing you need for your academic research. Academic research should always start with an objective point of view.
However, you can use such popular sources to get a first impression about your topic. Though they usually don’t cite studies, they are great as a first lead to find a problem. Books are, of course, another great resource for your initial research.
They don’t yet have to be written by experts, but likewise serve as a lead to find out something in particular. Books may include data which cite the source of those data. Instead of taking the data from your book, you can directly go to the mentioned source for further research.
Narrowing it down
Once you’ve gotten an overview of all the sources there are, you likely already are overwhelmed. The problem with all the information is, that you’re not yet looking for more details to define your topic.
Let’s imagine you want to write a paper about World War II. That’s a rather huge topic, isn’t it? It was a war with so many variables that could be written about from several viewpoints. You’d have to narrow it down further or you won’t ever be done writing about it.
For example, you could take a closer look at its cause. But you could also choose to explore if there were any other resistance groups like the French resistance that helped the allies.
Once you’ve narrowed down your topic, you can explore additional literature and skip the rest you’ve found.
Finding appropriate sources
Any academic research should only be done with proper sources that come from experts. Hence, newspaper articles won’t be of much help. A journalist may be well versed in some areas but is unlikely to become an expert.
For historical research, newspaper articles may prove relevant, though. They appear as a contemporary witness and can be used to corroborate what other experts have found.
As a matter of course, historical topics should always be researched with sources from historians. Additionally, someone else may have already done similar academic research on your topic which you can use as a more detailed lead.
More modern topics would require more recent sources including more recent statistics. If you were to do an academic research about the influence of smartwatches on white men in your country, you’d require statistics that are at best not older than a year. For up-to-date statistics simply go to government pages.
Are your sources credible?
To determine whether your sources are credible, you need to do some additional research. If your sources come from a professor, you can pretty much rest assured, your sources are credible. Try to steer clear of books that weren’t published by university presses or reputable publishers.
However, in times of censorship, you may want to consider books published by independent presses. It depends quite a lot on the topic you’re going for. At best, you’re using peer-reviewed material.
Peer-reviewed publications have been through a rigid checking by an entire board of experts within the same field. Thus, those are not only reputable but also stand for the highest level of credibility.
Make your academic research more effective
Considering the wealth of literature in this world, you may miss out on highly relevant sources. At the same time, your university may not have all the literature you’d need for your academic research. That’s when databases come into play. A lot of them are AI-powered these days, providing you with the most relevant sources for your research.
No matter how much you’ve narrowed down your topic, you’ll likely still end up with too much material to read. The day only has 24 hours and the clock is running until you have to hand in your paper.
To be more effective with academic research, academic research databases using Scholarcy are the best way to go. It’s an article summarizer tool that saves you lots of time and effort to read your sources.
Instead of having to read all articles and studies completely, you simply receive a summary. It informs you with just a few clicks if its content is relevant to your research. Additionally, it provides you with all the links to sources used for that article.