Research means gathering relevant data, analyzing it and drawing meaningful conclusions. We apply this process in many daily activities to find solutions to big and small problems. Research done with a systematic approach is called academic research. Persons undertaking academic research are known as research scholars.
Research v/s Academic Research
Research is more commonplace and informal. The methods used are entirely up to the researchers. On the other hand, research scholars follow a set pattern or procedure while researching. They usually have a guiding theory to support or disprove. Research scholars are bound by a formal set of rules or a framework. They may choose from the categories of quantitative or qualitative data to use in their research.
Tips for Research Scholars
The right research question
The purpose of any academic research is defined by its research question. The scope of the research also revolves around the same. Thus, crafting the right research question means determining the intention and path of your research. Throughout the journey of academic research, scholars can refer time and again to the research question for clarity and reorientation.
Resources form the backbone of any research. Hence, authentic resources strengthen the reliability of research. In technologically driven times such as these, online resources are indispensable for research scholars. Online resources like Wikipedia can be used to explore broad fields before narrowing down the research. Once research scholars have made a demarcation, authentic scholarly articles can be selected online or even offline. The advantage of online resources is that they are ever-expansive and globalised. Any resource from any corner of the world can be accessed.
Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Important research that a research scholar must do is whether to opt for qualitative research or quantitative research. Each has its pros and cons.
- Qualitative research means collecting and analysing non-numerical data. It is subjective and considered less reliable. Some topics can only be researched qualitatively, so it is opted for by many research scholars.
- Quantitative research studies numerical data. This means that statistics or numbers support the research. Scholars can collect samples through surveys, questionnaires, and other instruments to collect data.
Patience and Neutrality
Academic Research is a lengthy process. It can take years to collect data that finds a correlation between the variables of research. If research scholars have a deadline in their minds, then the research can be adversely affected. The curiosity that comes with patience and an open mind is essential for research scholars. Depending upon the topic, the guidance, and the availability of resources, academic research usually takes 2 to 3 years. In some cases, it may even take more than a decade. So be patient and dedicated throughout the journey, and enjoy the process if possible.
Theoretical resources play their part in academic research, but guidance from an expert gives an edge to any research. From a librarian to an expert, guidance is required to complete academic research. They provide the practical advice and direction that a research scholar would be lost without. These experts also have a key role in the review process. They help in identifying errors and loopholes that scholars may overlook from wearying indulgence. They also give the finishing touches to the research. Furthermore, they help in omitting irrelevant information to make the research crisp and impactful. Multiple sitting with research guides can bring out innovative ideas and opinions that make any research unique.
Indices, References, and Bibliography
These three terms are like the map to the entire body of research. Scholars must make indices precise, references authentic, and bibliographies systematic.
- Indices appear at the beginning of the research. They join the dots in a stepwise research process. The index must be as detailed as possible and in the sequence of the research article to be read.
- References support statements made in the research paper. The more references you can find, the better it is. Connecting material from various references and inferring something new is also a commonality in research papers. Any material taken from an author must be mentioned in the references to avoid plagiarism.
- Bibliographies are resources in themselves. Scholars can scan through the bibliography of a resource and find a plethora of relevant resources. Thus, the bibliography of your research should also look like a gold mine to other research scholars studying your research. Drafting a bibliography is a tedious task but very crucial. It connects the references made in the body of the research to the works of other authors. This authenticates your research and connects it to the holistic research work done on the topic.
The tips mentioned above are fundamental for every research scholar. You can start with these and add layers of rules tailored according to your process. In the beginning, research can seem mind-boggling and overwhelming. Try to break it and slow it down to your pace. Research scholars must understand that research is self-driven, and there will be no authority to impose any rule on their work. So, procrastination and delays of any kind will fall into their account each time. There may be obstacles. Collecting data may seem like an obstacle, but it cannot be quickened or skipped, so stay with the process diligently.
The most important takeaway, though, would be not to lose your way through the research and take breaks when you feel worn out. Hasty academic research is not useful to anybody, and if you take timely breaks, your research can get a fresh perspective and renewed energy. Time spent on the research reflects its finesse and usefulness so try not to lose heart with time. Just as the research scholar drafts the research, the research journey also shapes the scholar, so don’t be surprised to see that you’re a brand new person by the end of the research.