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Top Seven General Research Tips

Apr 24, 2008
These days doing even the simplest research can be overwhelming. Whether it's too much information on one topic, or too little on another, there is a definite mismatch in the world of research. The Internet has generated an inexhaustible storage of facts, details, and data and one could potentially devote their entire lifetime to browsing through the different results. With so many resources to choose from, how do you know which ones best suit your specific research needs? Fear not - there are a few basic tips that you can use to ensure that relevant information is never beyond your reach.

1. Use the Open Web.
Google and Wikipedia are household names for a reason. If it's simple, straightforward information that you seek, these resources can be a quick and easy way to confirm definitions, opinions, and facts.

2. Consult your nearest librarian.
Google is great, but sometimes it's best to leave the heavy lifting to the pros. If you have some comprehensive research to complete, the open web may not always have the best or most accurate answers.

3. Use some Electronic Resources.
And we're not talking about the ones that cost an arm and a leg. Chances are, your library subscribes to a number of online databases, periodicals, and other collections that are a mere library card entry away. If you don't have a library, head to a site like AccessMyLibrary that allows you to create a "virtual library card" and access their content for free.

4. Avoid shortcuts.
As you execute your research it's quite possible that you'll be bombarded with advertisements informing you that for the low cost of $15 per page, you can have your research paper completed for you. While it may be tempting at the time, the long-term effects of utilizing one of these "services" can be damaging to your career, be it college or professional.

5. Talk to someone who knows the subject well.
Whether it's a professor, friend, or your neighbor's grandfather, try to find someone who has firsthand knowledge of the subject you're looking into. If you're lucky, they'll be able to give you some unique insight into the area that you won't find at the local library.

6. Start a research group or find a research buddy.
It's easier to buckle down if you surround yourself with others who are equally determined. Having a classmate or colleague to run ideas past can help you develop ideas that may not come to light when you're flying solo. One note of caution, however: if you're tempted to chat or goof off rather than study, this is obviously not the best option for you.

7. If all else fails, reexamine your subject.
Sometimes you don't have a choice on the matter, but sometimes you do. And just because a topic sounded interesting before you attempted to do any research on it doesn't mean that it will continue to motivate you. Talk to your professor, or boss, or whoever is in charge of assessing your research and see if you can change your topic to something that actually holds your interest.
About the Author
Charlotte Beulow is a contributing writer for AccessMyLibrary.com . Best known for its large and diverse set of content, AML provides authoritative reference content as well as full-text magazine and newspaper articles - all courtesy of your local library and at no cost to you.
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