This section focuses on how you start a piece of research by forming keywords and phrases to enable the search for information. It will look at the areas you need to consider on your research journey and which resources can help you on that journey. It will also cover how to evaluate your information and how to develop your research. This process or skill, once learnt, will be transferable to other projects and research that you do
- What is your topic?
- Why are you interested in it?
- What is your essay title or research question? (break it down to the main keywords)
- Brainstorm some words that come up for you around your topic/research area. Create a visual plan or representation of it.
- Have you investigated keywords, phrases or authors associated with your topic?
- Look on the internet for general information
- Pick up keywords and phrases along the way - use every part of a resource you find to gather more keywords.
- What is your time period?
- Who are the key authors involved?
- What are the key examples of work involved?
- How in depth/long is your research going to be?
- Keep coming back to your essay title or research question to remind you of what you are focusing on.
- Learn about reading strategies
- You have a choice of using resources freely available on the web, or library databases for your research.
- The Web vs. Library resources - what can you use? is a good video introduction (Falmouth login required)
Benefits of the web
- Search engines are very powerful and generally bring back the results you expect
- 'Real Time' and new information
Benefits of library databases
- Scholarly material - your lecturers may have asked you for this
- Subject specific databases bring back more relevant results
- You know when it was written, who wrote it and where it was published
- You can see if it's peer reviewed.
A primary source is a description of an event by an eye-witness, which could be:
- diary or blog
- autobiography or memoir
- creative art works, such as literature or photography
- research data
A secondary source is an interpretation or analysis of a primary source and could be:
- news or magazine articles
- journal articles
- textbooks and encyclopedia
Remember - these can also be primary sources so you need to look for interpretation and analysis.
- How will your findings feed into/help your research?
- Who wrote it and why, what is their background?
- Is there a research methodology?
- Critically evaluate the information
- Brainstorm your topic
- Make notes as you go along
- Give each resource you find a category/topic heading
- Note the Reference for your resources as you go along
- Have a look at what sources the author has used
- Pick up more keywords and phrases along the way