Overview of Essay Research
Although sometimes considered laborious especially among novel writers, researching for an essay is usually a rewarding process.
All you need are proficient skills on how to research.
Such research skills are critical when writing an essay in English as they facilitate the gathering of evidence.
These skills make it easy to navigate through different types of essays.
Note that the systematic approach on how to research a topic requires you to explore areas you have limited or no knowledge about.
Such research should focus on a specific scope of an essay.
That said, there are some key tips to follow when it comes to how to do research for an academic essay.
Such tips are as elaborate below.
Tips to Researching for an Essay
Note that these tips form the basis of the guidelines on how to organize research for an essay. In line with the tips, you should:
1. Allocate Adequate Time
This is an important tip on how to research an essay. You have to appreciate that systematic and thorough research requires enough time.
It is therefore advisable not to wait until the last minute to start working on your essay. Instead, you should embark on the essay writing process as early as possible.
This is important in ensuring that you conduct exhaustive research and consequently enhance your chances of producing a top quality essay.
As such, as soon as you receive the instructions for your essay assignment, you should immediately assess the essay and determine the time required to execute it.
You have to keep in mind that researching for an essay could sometimes demand extra time due to the complexity of the instructions.
2. Consult with the Librarian
Although sometimes overlooked, this is very important tip when it comes to how to do research for an academic essay.
This is because the library databases are often difficult to navigate particularly for fresh users. The databases are composite and could therefore make the researching process strenuous.
For this reason, you should not shy off from requesting the librarian to guide you on the location to find the relevant books.
You should therefore closely consult with the librarian to help you identify the library sections to search for materials on specific ideas.
Such consultation could also come in handy when you need ideas on the areas to begin researching for an essay.
3. Use the Index
Using the index is a basic but very important tip on how to research a topic. It applies in cases where specific pages required for the essay have not been provided or identified in the instructions.
Note that in some cases, your essay assignment will only highlight the readings (books, articles, or manuscripts) to go through for the assignment without necessarily stipulating the exact pages.
In such cases, the index is very useful when researching for an essay.
You should review the index as well as the table of contents of all your sources to identify the locations of the relevant content.
This saves you time and energy that could otherwise have been used in reading irrelevant chapters.
4. Use the Dictionary
This is another important tip how to do research for an academic essay. It however overlooked by many writers.
You are required to have an easily accessible dictionary during the research process.
The purpose of the dictionary is to ensure that you understand all the words you read whether it is the instructions or the relevant sources.
This is because wrong interpretations of words when researching for an essay may result into complete misunderstanding of points in the sources.
The dictionary does not only enhance clarity of words used but also help build your vocabulary.
5. Examine the Footnotes
This is one of the most useful tips when researching for an essay. It entails closely exploring the footnotes of sources like journal articles or books provided as readings for your essay.
The objective of such an examination is to find more ideas from publications and works provided in the footnotes.
Good skills on how to research a topic requires you to look for whatever information could be hidden but available in the footnotes.
This is because sources in the footnote usually support ideas in the current work. It is therefore advisable to examine the original work for potential evidence.
6. Carefully Use Web Sources
Researching for an essay will often lead you to a myriad of online sources. However, you need to be careful when using different web-based sources.
Good approaches on how to research a topic requires that you use only reliable materials as sources of evidence to support arguments in your essay.
Such sources include peer reviewed journal articles and books, government websites and databases, and credible organizations’ websites.
Information from other unverified sources, including Wikipedia should not be used to substantiate your points. They can however be used to provide an overview of a topic.
All sources must as such be effectively appraised.
7. Note down the Sources
This is also a very critical tip in the process of researching for an essay. It requires you to effectively document or keep a list of your sources when you come across them.
The list plays an important role when it comes to how to organize research for an essay. This is especially in the later essay writing stages where you have to prepare for the references.
Accordingly, you should keep track of the place you obtained the relevant information for each of your points.
This is imperative in helping you effectively acknowledge the work other people that has been used as evidence in your essay.
It also helps easily go back to the sources for clarifications when need be.
Steps to Researching for an Essay
There are a set of steps that could be followed when researching for an essay to help assemble solid evidence.
The ability to observe these steps is largely determined by your skills on how to organize research for an essay.
According to these steps, you should:
1. Understand the Essay Question
This should be the first step when it comes to how to do research for an academic essay. It requires you to go through the essay question and fully understand its demands.
There should clarity on what the essay is asking you to do before you start the actual research. Otherwise, you are likely to conduct the wrong research.
Therefore, you need to severally reread the question and effectively highlight the exact things the essay question requires you to do.
From the instructions, you should deduce the nature of research required. Note that in some cases, the question will direct you on the types of writing structure to observe.
2. Brainstorm on the Essay
Brainstorming should be the second step when researching for an essay. It requires you to deliberate on the knowledge you already have about the essay topic.
This is one of the most critical steps on how to do research for an academic essay as it helps you to find the entailed knowledge gaps.
Identifying these gaps will make it easy to allocate time for studying the right areas.
With brainstorming, you can effectively steer the research process towards the right direction. This is because it enhances specificity when researching issues about your topic.
3. Conceptualize the Essay
This step involves acquiring a basic understanding of the issues entailed in the essay before going deeper into the respective details.
The step is important when researching for an essay as it gives you a good idea about the essay especially in cases where brainstorming yielded inadequate knowledge about the essay topic.
Good skills on how to do research for an academic essay requires you gain a solid background knowledge on the essay topic before embarking on in-depth research.
Such knowledge is essential in the assessment and appraisal of different sources.
4. Plan and Find Sources
This step is very important when it comes to how to organize research notes. It entails identifying the place to secure sources for your essay and how to access them.
For instance, you could plan to use the library catalogue to find government documents and books or use an article index to locate periodicals.
After finding the sources, you should use an effective retrieval system to keep track of the sources. Such systems may include a journal, a notebook, or and index card.
The retrieval system used when researching for an essay should be flexible enough to accommodate all appropriate sources.
5. Evaluate the Sources
This is another important step when it comes to how to organize research notes. It entails categorization of sources based on their relevancy and credibility.
When reading sources have been provided, you need to examine how relevant they are to your specific essay question.
On the other hand, both relevancy and credibility of the sources are important when a list of reading sources has not been provided.
In such a case, when researching for an essay, you have to determine the authority and relevancy of the sources.
This requires you to separate peer reviewed works like journal articles from unauthoritative works like magazines, and then identify the sources with useful information.
6. Read through the Sources
The process of researching for an essay demands that you read through your sources systematically. This is usually realized when you organize the sources in a way where they are all easily accessible.
Proper skills on how to organize research notes requires you to devise a sequence through which the sources will be read.
The sources should be arranged in a manner that enables you to go back and reread them when necessary, and easily compare their content with the other sources.
You should then allocate each of the sources adequate time for reading.
7. Take Notes
This step usually happens concurrently with reading through the sources. It is one of the most basic steps on how to organize research for an essay.
Notes should be taken as you read through the essays. Good techniques in researching for an essay require that you take down notes relevant to the essay question indiscriminately.
Notes on stronger or weaker points will be sorted out later on.
You should be concise by leaving out all the unnecessary material. This can be achieved by using small index cards.
As well, you should organize your notes effectively to make revision easier.
8. Research all Angles
Researching for an essay requires you to examine all potential angles on issues raised in the essay question. You should always look for other opinions on the issues.
Good practices on how to do research for an academic essay demand that you develop balanced arguments throughout your essay.
As such, you have to look for different perspectives from the notes you have taken from your sources. This should be done when taking the notes.
Such notes should contain evidence for the different perspectives to be used in supporting the respective arguments.
9. Organize your Notes
This step looks at the effective approaches on how to organize research notes. In this, you should categorize your notes into different arguments specifically those to be advanced in your essay.
Good skills in researching for an essay requires that you find a suitable approach to help identify all the points that support a particular argument.
Such approaches could include highlighting key points using markers with different colors for distinctive arguments or physical organization of notes into different folders or piles.
10. Write the Essay
This is the last step when researching for an essay. It entails developing coherent arguments from the organized notes.
These arguments should be pieced together to form an opinion on the issues being examined by the essay question.