Academic research works are written after carrying out profound research and analysis of the results. If you are concerned that blood, sweat, and tears are required for quality research, we offer you this guide. If you use outdated tools and methods, you will need to spend hours studying relevant and less appropriate literature, sorting it, and also writing and rewriting work.
The First Steps: Set Your Pace
We could write four articles only speculating on this first step, but instead of it, we will just summarize the key ideas for you:
- Work constantly;
- The advisor does not have to direct every step you take;
- The initiative is not punishable;
- You have the right to make a mistake;
- You have the right to ask for help.
The Second Stage: Kill Procrastination
The scientific problem is never completely understood. The supervisor can understand a little more than you. However, he may not know in detail how to solve it. It is your task. There is a simple algorithm, how not to procrastinate and not to do silly things in the conditions of the uncertainty.
- Make a complete list of questions that you do not understand.
- Write three options of answers to each question. Discuss them with the supervisor. The conversation “which of the three options is better” is always more constructive than the conversation “think up for yourself how to do it all.”
- Choose for each question the easiest answer in terms of implementation.
- Complete the entire task from beginning to end, so that at least something works. If this is a data analysis task, then it is necessary to reach the evaluation of the quality of solutions. Discuss the first results with the supervisor.
- Gradually, one by one, replace the patches with more reasonable options and see what improves.
There is a possibility you will personally need another algorithm for success. There are no universal recipes for everyone.
The Third Stage: Make Your Annotated Bibliography Shine
Any research is based on some already known results, and you should not only read them but carefully study them, trying to understand everything.
An important rule: as soon as you read the article, be sure to write an essay on it. Do it right away, later it will be more difficult to remember and systematize everything. Recorded abstracts later will serve as the basis for reviewing paragraphs of the report, article, course, thesis. It is very annoying to spend a lot of time then to remember in which article you read an important fact, which you now need to refer to.
The Fourth Stage: Experiment!
If you have a hypothesis, but you do not know how to prove it, try first to verify experimentally that it is correct. Confidence of the researcher in the fairness of the result gives strength in the search for strong evidence. Think about what the intermediate results are, and in what form it would be interesting to display those on the graphs. Looking at them, you often notice something that you never even thought of before. Invent different ways to visualize the same data, “twist” your task from different sides.
At the same time, avoid aimless experiments. Start any experiment from the end, i.e. with that interpretation (beautiful phrase) that you would like to write the last in the report about this experiment. Think about how to put an experiment that most clearly confirms this phrase. Of course, the result can be negative. Ability to immediately plan a successful experiment comes only with experience. Having a goal is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for success.
The Fifth Stage: Reports regarding the Current Situation
An excellent student periodically (for example, every two weeks) sends a brief report of the following content to the supervisor:
- what new was learned from the literature;
- what was done during this period;
- problems that arose;
- your the ideas for their solution, including the possibility of changing the formulation of the entire task or its parts;
- work plan for the next period (for example, two weeks).
Following these steps carefully you will soon find yourself in the end of the path called research project writing. You might have noticed that we didn’t offer you some magic tricks which would make you job effortless, because if you want to do it on your own, you will have to invest yourself fully in doing it. Don’t skip the planning part and don’t be shy to ask questions. You can count on help from your supervisor, but don’t forget to update him or her on the status of your project to create a needed working connection. Good luck!
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