Established in 2017

How to be a good researcher

By: Alex Bock

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- Any student at a college university, regardless of their field of study, will inevitably be doing some form of research. Whether it’s a research paper or a major presentation, a strong amount of research is always needed to reinforce the information being presented in your project.

“Every field does research,” Dr. Tewksbury, a professor of communication studies here at Niagara, explained. “You need to have the skills to ask the right questions. You need to be intellectually curious.”

Every researcher should start their research project by asking a certain question. That question becomes the main focus of the project. The next step after narrowing the focus to one central topic is to do as much scholarly research as possible, as scholarly articles are often the best sources of information for academic research.

“Methodology is important for qualitative or quantitative research,” Tewksbury mentioned. “Some [questions] are better answered through quantitative research using numbers, and some studies are better answered through qualitative research in studies that can’t be quantified by numbers.”

For example, research in the fields of science or mathematics is generally quantitative, as the statistics are what back up the hypothesis in the study. However, a study that deals with relationships or any personal topics is often done with qualitative research because these areas of study cannot fully be quantified into statistics.

The methodology of any study is always crucial, as every different sort of research project is approached differently than others. The best methodology used in particular sets the foundation for gaining the most accurate results possible.

However, while the ultimate goal in any research project is to gain the best results possible, every study comes with some degree of error. While perfection in any study is impossible, the goal should always be to minimize errors to gain the most accurate results possible.

“There’s errors in every study,” Tewksbury stated. “If your methods are not sound, that leads to less accurate results. The goal of any study is to minimize error as much as you can.”

Another way to gain the results in a particular study is to narrow your study down to one central focus. If your study is too broad, the end results are more likely to be less accurate than a study with one clear focus.

“The narrower your focus is, the accurate the results of your study will be,” Tewksbury explained.

Research is a part of college for any student regardless of their major, so learning to become the best researcher you can be is crucial to academic success. Learning which sources are most valuable as well as how to form a good hypothesis and conduct your research are all vital skills to learn to become a good researcher.

 

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