Study Skills: Six Research Strategy Secrets
The Information Process
Today, classrooms and libraries are connected to vast electronic information resources, it is important that students to recognised the importance of doing the right strategy for doing assignments and research. Students need the basic help, not just with identifying and locating information, but also understanding and making sense of the information they gathered.
The information professionals have identified six main phases that comprise the 'information process', namely: defining information needs, locating , selecting, organising, presenting and evaluating the information, these are structured programs for developing information literacy skills.
The following checklist and questions are guide for students while they are doing their research for their assignments, it will help students to acquire and developed their skills in finding the right information not only during the students' high life but through to university.
1. Define: What do I really want to find out?
Before you start collecting materials for your assignment you need to be clear about what you are doing. You have to identify the main concepts or keywords in the question. The following questions may help you do this.
- Exactly what have I been asked to do?
- What is the purpose of my research - is it to inform, is it to argue a point of view?
- What do I already know? -Write down what you have already know about the subject and brainstorm the topic for further ideas.
- What do I need to find out?
- What do I need to do with the information?
2. Locate: Where can I find the information I need?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do I begin?
- What sort of information do I want?
- Where can I find the information?
There are different access tools where you can find the information you need for the topic of your assignments or research.
- Your school library is a wealth of information. You can search for title of books you need by searching the library catalogue. The teacher librarian and library staff are the best people who can help you access all the tools and resources you may need, such as videos, magazines, newspaper articles, databases, CD Roms.
- Searching the web - when using the Internet to search for information make sure you use the right keywords to be able to find relevant information.
3. Select: What information do I really need to use?
When you identified and located some relevant material for your topic you need to make effective use of the information.
- Does the information I have really answer my question?
- What information can I leave out?
- How relevant is the information I have found?
- How credible is the information I have found?
- How will I record the information I need?
- Consider the curency of the information, is the date of publication appropriate.
4. Organise: How can I use this information?
When you think you have already enough information you may start asking these questions:
- How can I put the information together to answer the questions or support the argument
- How can I best use this information?
- Do I have enough information?
- Have I cited what I've found?
You will not know the answer to this until you have read and thought about the information you have found and started writing!
It is a good idea to start writing or outlining your draft. Combine information from different sources and say it in your own words. Don't just cut and paste. It is only when you begin writing your thoughts and ideas about your topic become clear.
5. Present: How can I present this information?
- What will I do with this information?
- How can I best present this information? Do I present it as essay? A report, A talk a debate?
- Do I need diagrams, maps, graph? illustrations, audio-visual materials or do I need to present in powerpoint presentation?
- Have I included a bibliography of resources?
- Is my presentation original or in my own words, concise and accurate?
- Don't forget to edit your work. (spelling, grammar)
6. Evaluate: What did I learn from this?
- How did I go?
- Did I fulfil my purpose?
- Did I find all the relevant information?
- Am I satisfied with the end results?
- How did I go with each step of the information process - what went well and what went badly in the research process?
- Do I need more skills to make it easier next time? If so in what area?
- What new skills do I need to develop or improve and how can you improve them?
When you get your assignment back, make sure that you take some time to think about any comments on your work and how you might improve next time.
If you are not happy with your grade, try to identify which part of the process can be improved or you can talk to your teacher to ask for more advice. Good luck !