Optimize your research with these simple steps

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Two workers collaborate at a computer. Taking diligent notes is an important part of quality

By JJ Kim, Editor-in-chief

Conducting high-quality, well-thought-out research is more important now than ever as misinformation and skewed numbers sway public opinion on controversial issues. Here are some quick pointers to ensure your research stays true to its original purpose. 

First things first, figure out what question you want to answer with your research. Make sure it’s a clear question with an independent and a dependent variable. An independent variable is able to stand by itself and manipulates the dependent variable. A dependent variable relies on the independent variable to make sense. Make sure the question you are answering is not too open-ended, as casting such a wide net may only raise more questions. 

With this question in mind, formulate a defendable thesis statement, as this will be the main question you’ll revolve your research around. 

Once you have formed your thesis, gather reliable sources to help develop your research question even more. Don’t limit yourself to just one type of source. Have an expert source, a data spreadsheet, Freedom of Information Act information if it applies and anything else that might contribute valuable information. 

After you gather some sources and begin to understand the scope of how much you can research, it’s important to go back and review your research question to see if the question is still realistically answerable. 

While gathering information, be sure to take diligent notes on what you’re finding, including a works cited page. It’s imperative you continuously cite your sources anytime you refer to someone else’s information. 

Next comes one of the most important yet difficult parts of researching: synthesizing. You’ve gathered a whole bunch of information, but now it’s time to interpret the information and compile your critical analysis of what the data means. 

After you synthesize what the data and information you gathered represent, it’s always a good idea to revisit your hypothesis and adjust it according to what you’ve found. Take a look over your work and proofread your analysis before submitting your research for review. 

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JJ is a junior in Media.