Maybe you’re writing an essay? Perhaps you’re publishing a blog post? Whatever the case may be, you need to do some online research.
The question is: how can you make it as productive as possible? There are all sorts of things you can do to optimize your research sessions. We’ll cover some of the best researching tips below.
1. Schedule Your Research Sessions
First and foremost, you’re advised to schedule your research sessions. If you don’t schedule your research sessions, and if you instead just type things into Google while you’re watching TV randomly throughout the day, you’re going to end up wasting a lot of time.
Why is this? Well, first of all, you’re going to be distracted, and no one works at optimal speed when they’re distracted.
But second of all, you won’t have established any goals for yourself, and so you’ll sort of just be spitting into the wind, so to speak. What should take 10 minutes will end up taking 30 minutes, and what should take 30 minutes ends up taking 2 hours.
What you need to do is select a block of time, rid yourself of all distractions, and focus on the research specifically. You’ll be amazed at how efficient you can be when formalizing your research sessions.
2. Use A Search Tool
One of the great things about computers is that they enable you to use the control + F function. This allows you to search for specific words in a file of text, greatly improving your research efficiency.
Unfortunately, however, if you’re dealing with PDFs (as academics often are), your operating system alone is not going to be able to perform the control + F function, at least not on its own.
Fortunately, there’s a way around this problem. All you have to do is install an appropriate search tool. Tools like https://setapp.com/apps/pdf-search enable you to search for individual words and phrases in PDF files, allowing you to comb through thousands of pages of information in just a short amount of time.
3. Take Notes
A common practice among many is to research a particular piece of information and then insert it directly into the draft. While this method can work in a pinch, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Not only does it leave a lot of valuable information on the table but it also makes it difficult for the researcher to stay organized. After all, if it’s crammed into the middle of an essay, it’s going to be difficult to locate. So, while it seems like it would increase productivity, it actually makes the process quite inefficient.
The better method would be to take notes on a separate sheet of paper (or in a separate word processor) so that they can be easily referenced later. Not only does this help to keep information organized, but it also makes you more open to using borderline pieces of information in your essay.
Your “notes” page essentially acts as a rough draft for the rough draft. It contains all of the information that you might use, whereas the rough draft itself is essentially a “greatest hits” version of the “notes” page.
4. Establish Goals
Another thing you’re going to want to do is to establish goals. Setting goals will help prioritize your research efforts, ensuring that you take them seriously.
There are all sorts of goals you could set. You could set out to obtain 3 usable quotes within 30 minutes; you could set out to find 10 answers within an hour; you could quite simply just decide to spend 2 straight hours combing through different resources.
Regardless of the goal, you need to put yourself in a position that will allow you to make progress. This involves actively researching different components of your project or essay, not just aimlessly typing words into a search engine.
It might help to think of research as a competitive activity, like golf or tennis. This will help motivate you and will ensure that you’re putting in the max effort.
5. Pursue Reliable Sources
The internet is filled with a lot of junk information. After all, just about anyone can publish an article online.
Unfortunately, with all of this junk info floating around, it can be difficult to wade through the proverbial water.
The question is: how do you move past it and straight to the reliable data? By specifically pursuing reliable sources.
Let’s say you’re searching for info on the efficacy of a specific drug. You’ll type it into Google and be met with a variety of options. But rest assured: some of these options are better than the others.
Instead of clicking on the link to druginfo123.com, opt for peer-reviewed studies instead. These can be found at links like pubmed.com or statista.com. They can also sometimes be found at the bottoms of Wikipedia articles.
By going straight to these sources and avoiding the spammy-looking ones, you can save substantial amounts of time. Not to mention, you’ll ensure that you’re getting accurate data.
6. Use Wikipedia To Your Advantage
You’ve probably been told that Wikipedia is not a credible source. To an extent, this is the truth. That said, you can still use Wikipedia to lead your research efforts; while Wikipedia can contain false information, it is, by and large, correct about the information it provides.
Our advice is to use Wikipedia to find new facts, then, enter those facts into Google and see if you can find them in more credible sources. If you can, the information is legitimate. If you can’t, you’re probably going to want to avoid that specific fact in your project.
Online Research Is Easier Than It Seems
In truth, online research is easier than it seems. Make use of the tips above, and you’ll be facilitating some of your most productive research sessions to date.
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