Home > School Life > Research Tips for Secondary School Students

Research Tips for Secondary School Students

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Secondary Students Research Research

When you're given an assignment that requires completing research it can be easy to become overwhelmed by that all you have to do. But for many such projects you really only have two tasks: researching and writing. Completing scholarly research might seems a bit intimidating if you've never done it before, but most academic research can be broken down into four easy steps.

When you're faced with your next research project be sure to make a research plan, do some pre-reading, gather your information and then synthesise all that you have learned. You'll be on your way to high marks in no time!

Make a Research Plan

A research plan is a lot like an outline of your entire research project, so it's important to take an honest look at how much work you have to do and how much time you have to do it. Begin by carefully reading your assignment. Note what you are being asked to do, and if there are any requirements such as the number of sources or types of sources you must use.

Next take a look at your schedule and pencil in times that you can spend doing research in the library, online research and quiet time for reading and writing. Don't forget to factor in at least a few days between writing your first draft and then going back and polishing your essay or report to perfection. Finally, write down specific goals for each of the research time slots you set aside. Where will you complete your research? What will you want to get done during that time? Which sources do you anticipate using? Is there anything you can do to prepare yourself to meet your goals? The better prepared you are for each research session the more efficiently you should be able to work.

Do Some Pre-Reading

Your very first research session will likely be the time in which you do some pre-reading. This means you will probably look in broad sources such as encyclopaedias or flip through subject-specific journals to get a feel for your topic. You might also skim through a few books on a general topic. If you have been asked to come up with a research question or essay topic on your own then this is the time to see if there are any particular sub-topics which catch your attention.

This may be a frustrating time because you might end up feeling like you have no idea what you want to do or that there is too much information and you don't know where to start with narrowing it all down. Don't be afraid to ask for help from a librarian, or even check to see if your teacher is willing to help you discuss your project. The more evidence you have that you've done your pre-reading the more likely it will be that you'll find someone who is able to help you.

Gather Your Information

Once you've got your topic narrowed down and a broad feel for your topic it's time to start gathering your information. A lot of students immediately want to find a book on their topic, but remember that you may need to find bits of information in many sources rather than just one source for all of your information. In fact, using just one source isn't a very good way to get the most diverse range of information possible. If you are using books then don't forget to check the table of contents, glossary and index for help in finding information within.

Also remember that books often have bibliographies that you can use to point you towards your next sources. If you use journals then skim the table of contents to see if there are any blurbs about the articles, or look for an index to help you find specific terms. Online databases might also be available at your library to help you locate information.

Online research can also be carried out, but make sure that you know who has written or published information on a web site so that you can be sure that it is correct and unbiased. Also, look to see when the web page was last updated and while you can use Wikipedia to point you towards other web pages remember that anyone can add information to it's articles so it is not considered a reliable scholarly resource.

Synthesise All That You Have Learned

Once you have all of your different pieces of information it is up to you to put them all together to create a coherent essay or report. Remember that in order to avoid plagiarism you must paraphrase the information you found, or use direct quotes and give credit to the original author. You may also need to cite the sources from which you found specific pieces of information. To avoid any confusion later on, make sure that your notes all list the source from which you found the information and the page on which you got your facts. This will also help you easily create a bibliography or works cited list later on.

Very often secondary students are assigned research projects but are not given any direction for how to complete the research. Making a detailed research plan, doing some pre-reading, gathering information and synthesising this information are the four key steps to any assignment that requires research.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Lola
    Re: All about Abortion
    I think im pregnant im 13 almost 14 but im not sure what to do its been a week or 2 weeks im not sure on what to do ive already lost mum and i…
    3 July 2020
  • Sasuke
    Re: How to Deal with Pressure From Parents
    Same my mom doesn't understands my feelings and is always saying I time pass..even when I am viewing some light joke…
    25 June 2020
  • Ian
    Re: Coping With Strict Parents
    Before I reached puberty, my parents treated me very well, just like many parents do to their only child. Being my social partners…
    25 June 2020
  • BarbieAri
    Re: Coping With Strict Parents
    That is sad I can relate to every single one of you...I'm not gonna write about it because I would take up to like 2 pages...but…
    24 June 2020
  • Charlie
    Re: Coping With Strict Parents
    My parents don’t let me hang out with anyone. When I ask why they get mad at me and say “because we don’t want you to”. I can’t leave…
    21 June 2020
  • unknown
    Re: How to Deal with Pressure From Parents
    I am in lockdown and do all of my school work at home. I dont know why but I have not been doing enough and the…
    18 June 2020
  • Lili
    Re: Warning Signs of Self Harming
    I’ve seen your comments and it’s inspired me too tell you guys my story. I’m Lili I’m 13 years old and I’ve never had the courage…
    8 June 2020
  • Lily
    Re: How to Deal with Pressure From Parents
    I am 18 and i am going to uni soon.i am not a really open person with my family because i felt there is nothing to…
    8 June 2020
  • Ashleen
    Re: How to Deal with Pressure From Parents
    Hi I am in form 3.I used to be a performer but suddenly i started becoming worse in class 7. Since i started high…
    5 June 2020
  • Evee
    Re: Coping With Strict Parents
    Hey, I am fifteen years old. I have lived with my Grandparents since I was about a month old, my mother is a drunk as my father is…
    4 June 2020