Academic Writing Tips: how to conduct a Research Project
Conducting a Research Project is Important, But Tricky
In your Junior or Senior year of college, you may be expected to conduct a thorough and challenging research project and write it up in a fully developed academic paper. This is a wonderful academic exercise, because it gives you a taste of what graduate school or work in a science field will be like. Furthermore, writing a long research paper on an extensive project can provide you with an impressive writing sample to send to graduate programs and hiring committees once you graduate.
However, actually conducting that research project can be immensely difficult. Most students have a very hard time with the organizational aspects, and struggle to get the research project off the ground. Collecting sufficient data in time can also be a major challenge, as can be data analysis and interpretation of results. Some students make a crucial mistake at the research design stage, which ends up invalidating all their results.
If you would like to conduct an effective and impressive research project, you must avoid all these errors. How? By following these simple steps.
- Find a research mentor who knows a great deal about the field you are studying.
- With the help of your mentor, find a number of references on the subject or phenomenon you would like to experiment on.
- Read extensively on the subject, and gather strong references from journals, book chapters, books, presentations, and informal talks.
- Take detailed notes on the research methods employed by each study you read about. Try to understand the researcher’s rationale for why they did things the way they did.
- Speak with your research mentor after you have read all the background information on your field of interest. Bring questions, especially research methodological questions.
- Propose a general, abstract study question to your mentor. Focus first on the theoretical import of the question, not on the nuts and bolts of collecting the data.
- Take your mentor’s feedback seriously. If they say a study has been done before or that is not practical for you to complete, take it to heart.
- After you have arrived at a novel, important, and feasible theoretical question, use the knowledge you have gathered to begin to design a study to answer that question.
- Use your mentor’s feedback again to alter and improve your study. Make the study as uncomplicated as you can.
- Think of several control variables you would like to measure in your study. These will help you zero in on a proper statistical effect.