Radiating Sunshine: Research Tips in College

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Research Tips in College

research. research. research. 

The story of every college student's life... before college if someone were to tell me that I would be conducting three independent research projects that went beyond the literature review I would have laughed it off. I probably would have said that isn't such a big deal and would have felt totally confident going into the project. Well two and almost three research studies later, I've realized that research is a big thing. Everyone has an ethical requirement to do research well and for most college students performing research will come up at one point in their college career. 

So, here is what I have learned over the years when it comes to research: 

create a plan... if you have a topic that interests you or you're given a topic that you have to study creating a plan and developing a strong thesis/ hypothesis will be your best friend. Know where you stand and continuously work towards accomplishing that. 

staying on track... the best thing to do after creating a plan is sticking with it. I try to dedicate 2 hours of my week to research and I almost always have a check list of what I need to be focusing on. It really helps me stick with any and or all deadlines and I feel so accomplished. Also, the hours upon hours of work that pile up after you procrastinate isn't really an issue. 

analyzing your results... don't be threatened by this aspect of research. Find a mentor (someone who is really smart) and work with them. Explore different options and ask them questions on what statistical tests you should run. My mentor is really great and simply talking to her makes me feel better!  

getting insignificance... y e a h... not the greatest feeling in the world! But, it might be something that you will face. Don't be discouraged by this. Just because your findings were insignificant doesn't mean they're not important. In the world of statistics and research there is a concept called the "file drawer" problem meaning, that non-signifcant studies get placed in the file drawer where they collect dust and never get revisited. Don't let this happen to your study! Whether someone is looking to replicate a study or is doing a content analysis your study is important. 

writing it all up... I wrote all of my papers in stages which, I would highly recommend. It makes writing a lot easier and you'll have a great finished product. You also won't feel as overwhelmed, as you would if you did it all at once. 

presenting... this is my favorite part of the research process, but I know a lot of people dread it. Everyone who does research has a responsibility to report their findings so, why not do it in a creative way. Make your poster or presentation colorful and aesthetically pleasing. 

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