Have to write a research paper but not sure where to start? Found relevant literature on the research topic but confused about how to find the right answers? Following are 6 research tips that will help you tackle your research task effectively, especially when it comes to social science research.
1. Break down your research question into separate pieces. For instance, if you want to find out the effect of x on y, break down the question into steps. How is x defined. How is y defined. What factors have affected y in the past. By breaking down the research question into smaller parts, you will be able to get a deeper understanding of the overall research question.
2. Ensure that the sources you use are credible.
If using journal articles, do a quick research on the journals the articles were published in and check whether they are credible. Do research on the authors and their backgrounds. Check for the year of publication to ensure that the sources aren’t too old. If something was written in 1994, it probably isn’t too relevant unless you’re writing a historical perspective. Avoid using any subjective articles/blogs as they are not usually fact based and instead based on opinions. Google scholar is usually very helpful for credible sources. The Social Science Research Network
is also great for finding free journal articles if your research is focused on the social sciences.
3. Check the bibliography of each article/report used and highlight other relevant sources. This will help you find other sources that you may not have found through your google search. This will also help you dive deeper into your research to determine other facts and theories relevant to your research question.
4. When researching, don’t make assumptions about what must have happened. Always find evidence to support your claims. Find out how x led to y and the reasons for the relationship. Keep digging until you feel confident that you can explain the relationship to others without feeling hesitant about any gaps that you were unable to fill.
5. Keep track of sources being used. While using multiple sources for your research and writing notes, make sure to footnote or add notes for every idea/text you use. Believe me, there is nothing more frustrating than writing something and forgetting where it came from. This also reduces the risk of plagiarism.
6. In addition to google searches, find reports directly from websites of organizations/think tanks who may do similar work. Most think tanks have search functions for publications so make sure to do a key word search directly on the website. Often these publications don’t show up with simple google searches. A lot of multilateral organizations (World Bank, World Health Organization, etc.) and non-profits also publish research on topics related to economics, development, and government policies among others, so check out their reports as well.
Feel a little less stressed? Do you have other suggestions that have helped you tackle your research task in the social sciences? If so, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your questions and/or advice! Also stay tuned for research tips focusing on business/industry insights. Good luck 🙂