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Welcome to the research skills guide. In this guide we will look at some of the important steps you need to take when you research a topic or work through your EPQ.
REMEMBER, research is not a linear process, you may find yourself looping back to your original question, refining your question and heading off in a different direction - this is all part of good research!
The research cycle takes you through the following steps...
The research process
- Whether you have been given a question to answer, or are researching your EPQ, think through what you already know about the topic, what do you need to know, identify keywords that might be useful, and think about what type of information you need - facts, statistics, opinion, images, or a mixture of all.
- For your EPQ it is important you use a wide and variety mixture of primary and secondary sources, and do not rely just on Google. Think about your topic - are there specialist journals, websites, organisations or people that you can talk to? Have a plan on where to go and what sources to use. Then branch out. Use bibliographies to widen your research - try to get back to the original source of information. Continually make a note of where you are looking for information, track your websites, journals using note takers
- It is vital to continually question and evaluate the quality of the information you find. Use the CRAP test; Currency (up-to-dateness, reliability, authority, purpose). Your research results are only as good as the information you plug in. Question, cross check and evaluate all sources.
- Organising your information is vital in your research. For the EPQ you are awarded marks for your process as much as the end report or product, so it is essential you keep accurate and organised notes on where you are finding information, your evaluation of the research and how it has informed your research. Use mindmaps, note taking apps, flashcards - anything to help you organise.
- Decide on your end product - an essay, PowerPoint presentation, TED Talk etc. Whatever the format of your end result it is critical you use footnotes and create a bibliography in your end product to show where you have found information. **An important part of organising your information is also ensuring you avoid plagiarism and credit your sources (referencing) appropriately**.
REVIEW the information
- Before you regard your research as finished, take time to review the information you are finding and reassess your progress - have you answered the original brief? Have you identified additional questions? Have you disproved any hypothesis so need to re-visit your initial question. No research is wasted research - even if you have not answered your initial question, all of your research informs you of your next step.