Improve Your Research Skills – The Bay State Banner


Research skills are a valuable part of your professional toolbox. Employers want candidates who are not only curious, but have the skills to systematically seek answers to questions. Employers in many industries are looking for professionals to research in all kinds of roles.

An administrative assistant, for example, might need to research customer needs to make sure the company is offering the right services. A paralegal may be required to research past legal proceedings to help lawyers present a strong legal record. In order to design equipment for safe daily use, a mechanical engineer would conduct research on how people use machines.

Here are four tips to help you conduct better general research:

1 Define your research

Write a short paragraph summarizing what you are looking for. This will help narrow your search for a topic. What is the question you are trying to answer? What will the research help you accomplish? These questions will define the end of your search.

2 Make a plan

Now that you have identified the ends of the research you are conducting, you must identify the means. Make a plan for the project. Include a timeline, potential sources, and deliverables.

Create the timeline to have a visual representation of when each item needs to be done. Write down potential sources to get an idea of ​​people, places, or posts you might look to to find the information you need. Also incorporate deliverables into your plan: Deliverables are the products of your research that you can present to your manager at regular intervals until the deadline. If you’re on track to researching for three weeks, you can submit a deliverable at the start of each week.

3 Know your sources

The more research you do, the more familiar you will be with the resources available to you.

Internet searches are often a good starting point for research. You can try different ways of phrasing your query to see what gives you the best results. You should also be familiar with authoritative websites and online databases or libraries related to your particular field. For some research, you may need to search for physical resources in museums, libraries, or other facilities.

People can also be valuable resources. Consult with colleagues, local researchers and industry experts. Start by writing a short email to introduce yourself, explain the nature of your research, and ask them if they would be willing to share their views with you.

4 Check authority
and know how

A sound source is a reputable source. This means that you can trust the information you find there because it has been properly researched, vetted and verified. This is especially important for the information you find on the Internet. You should prioritize sites with .gov or .edu domain names. Be sure to consider the authority and expertise of all of your sources.

When you do research for a report, project, or presentation, you become a source of information yourself. People will see you as a knowledgeable information carrier. As you improve your research skills, you empower others to do the same.


Paul N. Strickland

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