Studying? Working on a project? Or are you a blogger like me researching for your next post? Using the correct research techniques is the best way to save yourself time and effort when studying. Here are my favourite ten tips for tripling the efficiency of your learning and finding what you need to know quicker. Hope you enjoy the post…
1. Be confident about what you need to find out
I like to break down my research topic into subcategories, then sub-subcategories to make it much easier to set about researching.
Why? Because a long list of specific, straight-answer points is more compatible with search engines, and easier to find in the index of a book, etc.
You should omit all unnecessary research points from your list. These will only hinder you, and if you are not 100% confident that they’ll be useful to you, leave them out. It seems like a risk, but it increases your learning speed, stops you from thinking about other things, and increases the depth of your more important information.
2. Use the checklist-summary method
When you’ve completed a task, tick it off in the box, and summarise what you’ve learned in at leat 50 words. Essentially, keep notes of what you’ve researched, and ensure you can easily refer back to your findings.
I always find it extremely annoying when I lose a crucial piece of information, not to mention that failure to understand how the pieces of the puzzle fit together is damaging to your work speed and quality.
3. Search within quotation marks
Since finding out this method around a month ago, it has proved to hugely increase the quality of the results I get on Google and has saved me time when trying to find that bit of information which refuses to show up on the first-page articles.
Always use quotation marks (“”) around the search terms which you absolutely need in the result to validate the research. Google will ensure that the potential articles will only appear if they contain those crucial words.
4. Use the indexes of reference books
Failing the internet method, turn to any reference books you have on the historical topic you are learning about and search up your keywords in the index.
Remember that a famous individual’s name is likely to appear in a book about that period of history.
5. Set deadlines
For larger research projects that could take you days, weeks or months, write down what amount of research you want to complete and when it should be done by.
This ensures that you can make steady progress and stay on track towards your target.
If you procrastinate often, set a lot of work for each period of time. Seen as you will most likely fail to do the entire amount, you will stay achieve the necessary seen as you overestimated in the first place.
6. For dedicated projects, use books
Needless to say, books are most often better than online articles for dense, factual research. Not only do they have to be verified for publication, they are checked against real historical sources and usually written by qualified historians.
But only use books if you have time to spare and your work needs more depth than you already have. Otherwise this tip will work against you and waste your precious time!
7. Don’t go on a tangent
This happens all too often for me; I start researching the thing I want to know. Then all of a sudden, the thing I want to know changes because I see a topic related to what I’m researching that interests me. All of a sudden, it becomes like a game of Chinese whispers and you finish with nothing like what you started with.
Chinese whispers may be fun as a game, but it’s an awful problem when you’re researching. Not only does it slow you down, but it cripples your work ethic and usually you end up learning nothing you wanted to.
The simple answer is: always stick to what you’re learning about, and don’t let yourself divert.
8. When presenting, never rely on the small facts
That tiny little fact nagging at the back of your brain might be really interesting, and you might like to ramble about it for a long period of time, but it’s pointless.
If you know something that is mildly related to your research, but your work doesn’t heavily depend on it, then get rid of it.
Often you have this problem because you did not properly omit all unnecessary points from your research list.
9. Visit the site yourself
I’m only recommending this if you are readily available to travel to the historic site of interest, and if you know it could really help you.
Often seeing your research site with your own eyes can multiply the quality of your work by 2x, 3x of 4x.
So if you can, try and see what you’re learning about, or ask something who has already been there.
10. Never leave research unfinished
If there is one underlying problem that will ruin all your studying, it’s incomplete or failed work. When coming to the close of your project, try and tie all the loose strings and round it off.
If you are really unable to come to a conclusion, then get rid of the pointless parts that are holding you back. Try and write down the focus point of each source you are looking at and how it affects the answer to the question you are trying to solve.
By treating your evidence as little pockets of answer, you can blend them to get the result you want.
Let me know what tips you use to improve the quality of your research! If this list helped you, show a couple of friends who are struggling also.
Just remember, study hard, and work efficiently.