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Research Project Guide for Students


Getting Started

The hardest part of a research project is usually deciding on what to research. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Mathematics

Science

Technology

Miscellaneous

Organization

A research project requires a high level of efficient organization. The research process can include various steps including research, experiments, data collecting, etc. Therefore, it is important to be organized and thorough. Follow these 7 steps to get yourself organized before and during the research process.

  1. Identify and Develop your Topic- Once you have identified your topic, state your idea as a question. You have to find your angle. What exactly are you trying to research and exhibit? For example, if you are doing something about drug use, you have to narrow it down to a specific question. In other words: what's your point? An example could be "What effect does drug use have on society?" or "What effect do pharmacueticals have on the divorce rate?"
  2. Brainstorm - Initially, you want to find information on everything that has to do with your topic. Then, in order to narrow it down, you should test keywords or concepts that will help you research the topic in a more efficient manner. For example, if you are researching the effects of drugs on society, you should consider all aspects of this question. Do you mean illegal substances or pharmacueticals? Does alcohol count as a drug? Are you talking about society in terms of crime, growth, education? Make an outline of topics that you will use in your research so that you start with a good distinct direction.
  3. Research - Well, now it's the time to do the actual work Use every resource that you can find on your topic. Obviously, the internet is going to be your biggest research tool, but don't forget about journals, magazines, encyclopedias, and the good old library! Remember - be very careful of the content that you may find on the internet! Just because it is on the internet, doesn't make it reliable information.
  4. Here are two sites to use for evaluating valuable internet content:
  5. Record and Reference - While you are doing your research, it is a good idea to organize your search by using notecards to keep track of your findings. Start by labeling each card with a topic and put a brief summary of your findings on the back as well as the location of the information. If you have a lot of information, use colored-coded cards to keep it categorized. That way you have a good index of information that you have found and you can use it for quick reference as you collect information. Remember- a "works cited" page is usually required to be turned in with your final research project. If you keep these notecards updated and organized, it will be easy to make your "works cited" page at the end of the project. Don't wait until the last minute, the night before the project is due, to write your "works cited" page!
  6. Statement of Purpose/Thesis -After collecting all of your information and doing all your research, develop a strong thesis statement. Although some people think it is a good idea to have a thesis first and do research second, it is actually best to do the research first. This makes it easier to develop a strong thesis as you already have the proof to back it up. You should have a general idea of what your thesis statement is going to be, but it is best to do the research first before you develop your thesis.
  7. Evaluation - After you have everything researched and organized, make a list of questions for yourself. Evaluate all the research that you have gathered and use what is necessary and throw out the rest. Be picky with what you have found. Is it necessary? Is it relevant? Does it help me make my point?
  8. Presentation - When you have all of your information put together, it is important that you are able to explain the details in a clear and concise manner. If you are required to present the information to an audience, you should be confident in your research in order to do a great presentation. Organize your presentation :
  • The Opening -The opening of the presentation sets the tone for what is to follow. Your goal is to prepare your audience for your presentation. In the opening, tell your audience why you are here and what you hope to show them. Give your audience a very brief summary of the points to be covered.
  • The Body - The body is where you are going to present your thesis and your research and your conclusion. The best way to present this information is to break up the information into sections. Present your thesis, present the research points by point and then give your conclusion. To prepare your presentation, you should organize it first and practice it many times. Practice! Practice!Practice! Time yourself to see how long the presentation takes. Practice it as many times as possible and ask your friends or family to be your "practice audience" and to give you feedback.
  • Summary - The summary of your presentation should be very brief. Here, you just want to reinforce the central theme of the presentation. Summarize the thesis and the research- briefly!

Research Project Resources