Research Skills

For Students 10

It is often hard to know where to start when you're told to research a topic.

Think about the resources available to you: your text book, other subject books, library books (School Library and Slough Library), books at home, periodicals, newspapers, magazines, museums and, of course, the Internet. The quality of the resources you use is much more important than the quantity, so finding the right resources is paramount.

This tutorial provided by the University of London helps you plan your research and teaches you how to use libraries and resources effectively.

The most effective researchers:

  • take time to plan
  • find a question that is both challenging and possible, both open and focused
  • explore many kinds of sources, not just textbooks
  • learn how to speed-read
  • get quickly to relevant information
  • think analytically and imaginatively about what they find
  • store their notes in efficient and interesting ways
  • collaborate with others and take on other people's views
  • present their final ideas in inspiring and effective ways use what they find to solve a problem or make a difference

Make a map

At the start of a project, when you aren't sure where to draw the boundaries, get a huge sheet of paper and make a map or diagram of all of your questions, associations, sources and leads. Mark your most compelling thoughts in a strong colour. Mark the main links to those ideas in that colour too. Don't throw out the weaker or isolated thoughts, but this map will help you know their place. You could make another map later in the project when you feel there is too much information.

Archive your questions

It is common to archive quotes and extracts but we forget to keep a record of our questions. Record who originally asked the question and leave a space by each one to record answers or places to look for answers. Highlight the questions that you find most challenging, the ones that wake you up. Archiving questions will encourage you to articulate them well. If you form your thoughts as questions, it will help you realise what you need to research. (Of course, some questions will be very specific which might not be interesting to archive separately.)

Quick Links

Skim reading

Research Tutorial