The deadline is drawing nearer, and you've yet to write a single word for your final research paper. What's a student to do? First, take a deep breath, and get ready to do some research!
Whether you're writing about Adam or atoms, there are several key qualities that, once possessed, will make you the most effective researcher you can be.
- The first key attribute of any successful researcher is organization. Before you head into the library stacks or database, know what you're looking for. Formulate a thesis or hypothesis around which to organize your endeavors. Compile a list of potential sources of information, and then keep a research journal that tracks your investigation of and findings from each of these sources.
- A second desirable quality is open mindedness. You may find that you need to expand your original source list, or seek out entirely different sources. Be ready for that and don't resist it. Similarly, your thesis or hypothesis may require revision during the course of your research based on newly uncovered information. You should also be open to discussing your research with your peers. Not only can they give you valuable input, but sometimes just working problems through to explain them to another is enough to set off new light bulbs.
- Finally, a good researcher is an honest researcher. Be aware of and avoid the potential for plagiarism. Always cite all of your sources according to the required methodology (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc). A truthful and thorough record of your sources will bolster your academic credibility and allow your readers to study your sources themselves while evaluating and responding to your work.
Now grab your notebook and head into the fray! You're ready to conduct research like a pro. Just remember, all research is a process of discovery, and your paper will be a focused tour of your pertinent findings. If you perform this task well, you'll have done a small part to further one path in the realm of human knowledge.