Target your sources
Think about the kind of information you want and where you might find that information.
If you want facts and figures about local spending, your local council website might have that.
If you need marketing statistics, the major market researchers would be a good place to start.
If you want scientific information, think about scientific journals
Your early reading and research will help you think about key words that you can search for further articles of interest.
Your keywords should be as specific as possible. Also, search synonyms for the keywords you select
Primary, secondary and tertiary sources
A primary source is someone directly involved in the subject. For example, a scientist who has made a discovery, or developed a theory. It is research that is collected first hand, and should result in learning something new, so could include analysis of your company’s performance.
A Secondary source is someone not directly involved, but is using their knowledge and experience to comment or discuss or interpret the information.
A tertiary source may be a summary of secondary sources-a review in a journal for example, they are useful sources of reading material, but you probably wouldn’t cite them.
Plan your project and produce a timetable with milestones, and building in time for proofreading and review at the end.
As you research, you will see avenues you want to follow, maybe several at time. You need to follow one, and then remember to go back to the others. Then at a later point, something chimes with an article you read before and you want to go back to it and follow it through.
BUT Where was it? How do you keep track of where you have been?
This depends whether you are most comfortable with pen and paper, or electronic records. if you favour the first, then index cards can be useful. As you read something, reference it on a card and make notes about what you read. Note the page numbers so you can go back to it if you want to.
If you prefer the electronic option, open a word document or notepad, and copy and paste links to useful sites, with a short note as to what you found of interest there. Or use bookmarking as we discussed in the first module of this series.
Don’t copy and paste chunks of information from other sites and regurgitate them. This is called plagiarism and is easy to check, If your document is fed into a copy checker it will produce references to the site you copied and pasted from.
If you want to use something directly, such as a quote, summary, fact, then reference your sources correctly.
As you research, you will have your own opinions on things you read, comments to make, points to add. So, make sure you distinguish in your notes as you collect information, between your own words and thoughts, and those of others. Use a different colored pen, or font or italics or highlighters, and keep a note of your key.