Research is a process that is messy and can be time-consuming. If you are having a hard time, don't beat yourself up- even the best researchers make mistakes and get hung up from time to time. But by being organized and planning out your research strategy, you can save yourself from hitting your head against the wall.
One way to approach research is to understand that it is a problem-solving process. You have a problem (a research question) that needs to be solved (by finding information). Most often, your research question will be part of a class assignment.
The very first thing you should do is look closely at the assignment.
Determine what you need to do in order to complete it satisfactorily. An example of a typical research assignment might be:
Write a 3-5 page essay about a current issue relevant to the profession using a minimum of three (3) articles. At least one (1) must be a peer-reviewed journal article. All articles should be current- published in the last five (5) years. Include a statement of why the issue is relevant, provide the evidence, and conclude with some recommendations on how to best deal with the issue. The paper should be written following APA style guidelines and include a reference list of your cited articles.
Does this seem a bit overwhelming? Don't panic- we just need to break this down into smaller parts. Think about what you're being asked to do- the specific requirements, the theme for the topic you're being asked to choose, and the objectives of the assignment.
What are the requirements? Take a look at the assignment again and click on the buttons below when you're ready to see the answers.
Do you have an assignment you're working on? Go ahead and look at the requirements and try to identify the different particulars that you need to pay attention to. Write them out in a list like the lists above.
Don't have an assignment but want to play along? Look at the assignment above and think about what you might want to research and write about if you were in this class.
Move on to the next page, where we'll look at the process of choosing a topic. It's not as simple as it seems, but it also isn't as daunting as most people think.