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Building your Research Skills

An introduction to knowledge and skills to help you become a more able researcher.

Design is Essential

    

Too many students leap into research without a plan. This is a very bad idea. Why? Because having no clear plan and goal means you will soon be in the wilderness, getting frustrated and wasting time. Spending even an hour or two on research design can save you time overall and give you much more confidence about your research.

What is Research?

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Starting your Research

Many students struggle with how to get a research project going. They have a couple of options:

1. Look up some books and articles on your topic and write it up as a summary.

2. Plan your research as a problem-based analysis, creating a problem statement and developing a roadmap for research.

Only 2 qualifies as a real research project design. Here is how to do it:

 

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Finding a Research Problem

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Developing a Research Proposal

Your professor may have asked you for a formal research proposal. Even if there is no call for a formal proposal, the activities describe in the following presentation can greatly improve your research design:

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Developing Research Questions

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Creating Preliminary Outlines from Research Questions

An outline this early in the process?? Yes. A preliminary outline can serve as a roadmap to tell you what your research should cover. It reduces anxiety and adds to your sense of purpose. What is more, it's not that hard if you use your research question as the source for your outline:

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Good Questions - Bad Questions

Research questions are not easy. Below are badly formed questions along with ways to make them succeed (from William Badke, Research Strategies: Finding your Way through the Information Fog)

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Preliminary Outlines - Some Examples

A bit confused about outlining? Here are some examples:

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