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How to Research Effectively

Last Updated: June 26, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jennifer Mueller, JD . Jennifer Mueller is an in-house legal expert at wikiHow. Jennifer reviews, fact-checks, and evaluates wikiHow's legal content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. She received her JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 74,559 times.

Whether you're working on a research paper for school, a fact page for a website, or an article for a magazine, your final product will rise or fall based on the quality of your research. To research effectively, you must plan your project in advance so you can make the most efficient use of your time and resources. Effective research is as much about planning as it is about the research itself. Analyze your sources carefully and cite them properly in your final report. [1] X Research source

Organizing Your Project

Step 1 Narrow your topic.

  • If you're working on a research paper for school, you can use the page requirements (or limits) as a guide to narrow your topic.
  • Use the same approach if you're writing an article for a website or print publication, and have been given a word limit.
  • For example, "butterflies" probably is too broad for a 20-page research paper. If you know you want to write about butterflies, narrow your topic to a particular species of butterflies, or butterflies found in a particular geographic area.
  • You may have to do some basic preliminary research to appropriately narrow your topic. This gives you a sense of how much information is available. If it's more than you could possibly dig through, consider narrowing your topic again.

Step 2 Set preliminary research goals.

  • Typically, you'll want to create a basic thesis statement for your final report. This is what you ultimately want your research to prove.
  • Creating a thesis statement before you've even begun your research might seem backwards, but to research effectively, you need to know what you're looking for.
  • For example, maybe you have narrowed your butterfly topic to focus on why butterflies are attracted to a particular park in your hometown. Your thesis statement at this stage might be "Butterflies are attracted to Panorama Park because of the flowers planted there."
  • Keep in mind that you can adjust your thesis statement later if your research shows that it's inaccurate or inappropriate.
  • To return to the butterfly example, your thesis statement means you are focusing your research on the park you named and the flowers that are planted in that park. If you find out through your research that the butterflies are not particularly fond of those flowers, you may have to adjust your thesis.

Step 3 Assess the overall scope of your project.

  • Essentially, the scope of your project is how far you're going to go. For example, if you're writing a research paper on the role of the Germans in the American Revolutionary War, the role of the French in the same war would be outside the scope of your project.
  • The scope of your project may be dictated to you, for example through an assignment sheet from your teacher or professor.
  • Keep your scope in mind as you're planning your research strategy. You don't want to get bogged down in your research or spend too much time chasing after information that turns out to be irrelevant.
  • If you find something that doesn't fall within the scope of your project, you can quickly discard it and move on to something else.

Step 4 Identify possible sources.

  • For example, if you're doing research on the butterflies in a local park, surveys of local residents on how they feel about the butterflies probably isn't going to be helpful for you. However, research conducted by students at a nearby university might be beneficial.
  • Focus on the type of source you need. If you're working on a political science or sociology research paper, polls and statistics may be relevant.
  • However, if you're writing a paper in the hard sciences, you want to focus on scientific experiments and journal articles.
  • If your teacher or professor has given you a reading list or identified good sources, start there. Consider it a jumping-off point rather than something to hit as a last resort.

Step 5 Brainstorm key words.

  • You may want to do basic internet searches just so you can get an idea of how effective your key words will be.
  • For example, if you're writing a research paper on butterflies in a local park, the key word "butterfly" will bring up entirely too much information to be useful for you.
  • Try to make your key words as specific as possible. Once you have your basic key words, look for synonyms of those words, or other related words or phrases.
  • Write all the words you brainstorm on a sheet of paper so you don't forget them or lose track of them.
  • Leave plenty of space around each word so you can take notes or make comments on the effectiveness of each word search as you research.

Step 6 Gather your materials.

  • One of the easiest methods to organize your research notes is to buy a stack of index cards. At the top of each card, you'll write the name of the source you're taking notes about.
  • If you're required to use a particular citation format, you might want to create a formatted citation for the source at the top of the card. It will save you time later on when you're working on your final paper.
  • Beyond index cards, you'll also want to gather highlighters, tabs or flags, and adhesive notes. These will help you keep track of information you find in print sources and organize your thoughts as you research.

Finding Good Sources

Step 1 Search for primary sources.

  • Whether a source is considered primary depends on its relation to the topic. Some sources can be primary for one topic but not for another.
  • For example, if you're doing research on D-Day, newspaper articles from June 6, 1944 or a few days afterward would be considered primary sources. However, newspaper articles from 2014 would not.
  • Primary sources are the heart of research, and what differentiates an actual research project from a book report. If you're reading what someone else wrote about your topic and then summarizing what you read, that's a book report – not research.
  • Focusing on primary sources means you may have to get off the internet and go to a library. Some primary sources, such as historic documents and newspapers, have been digitized and are available online. However, many have not.
  • Additionally, databases and digital archives of primary sources often are only accessible by subscription. Public and university libraries often maintain subscriptions to these digital resources, but you'll have to use a library computer to get to them.

Step 2 Take useful notes.

  • If you're using the index-card method, jot down a few words to indicate the idea or fact you found in that source. Include a page number if available so you can cite to it directly or quickly find it again.
  • If you see something in a source you want to quote, put it on your notecard. However, do something to make it stand out from the rest of your notes so you don't inadvertently include it in your report as your own words.
  • For example, you may want to highlight a quote so it stands out at a glance as a quote, and not your own notes. You also could write it in a different color.
  • Likewise, as you read a source you may have thoughts of your own, or additional questions you want to explore. Highlight those or write them in a different color so you can instantly recognize them as your own thoughts, not something that should be attributed to your source.

Step 3 Fill in your research with secondary sources.

  • The authors of secondary sources are not involved directly in the subject they're discussing – otherwise they would be primary sources.
  • Rather, they are using their own knowledge and expertise to interpret, comment, analyze, investigate, or contextualize something.
  • Secondary sources can be extremely valuable to you in making sense of the primary sources you've found, but it's important to avoid over-using them.
  • With secondary sources, the most important thing to keep in mind when taking notes are ideas. If an author you read has an idea or theory about the topic you're researching that resonates with you, take out a note card and write that idea down. Then if you bring it up in your report you can credit them with having the idea.
  • Taking a theory or idea you read somewhere else and acting like you came up with it is plagiarism. The most effective research builds on ideas and theories introduced by others, rather than stealing them.

Step 4 Check dates and footnotes on secondary sources.

  • When something was published can be a strong indicator of whether you should rely on it. Ideally, you should check the date of publication before you even read the material.
  • Whether dates matter depends on the subject you're researching. If you're researching a historical event, you'll likely be making use of material dated any time from the date of the event to the present.
  • However, in other areas of research older sources are likely to be outdated and unusable. For example, if you were researching how schoolchildren use the internet, you wouldn't want to use an article written in the early 2000s as a source. Use of the internet has changed significantly since then.
  • If an author is biased, it can undermine their authority, even if they have tremendous expertise on the subject you're researching.
  • For example, suppose you're researching the butterflies in a local park. You find a lengthy, detailed, and informative article in a reputable science journal that discusses the very butterflies you're researching.
  • However, the article is written by a scientist who is infamous for their denial of climate change. This position means they aren't well-respected by most of the scientific community.
  • If their bias has little to nothing to do with the subject at hand, or if they wrote the butterfly article before they spoke out against climate change, you might still be able to use that source.
  • If you do plan to use a source with a potentially biased or compromised author, use caution. If you're working on a project for school, ask your teacher or professor about it.

Step 6 Use caution with tertiary sources.

  • These sources can be helpful for you in finding new articles and sources to use, but you typically don't want to cite them directly in your research.
  • Newspaper and magazine articles also can be tertiary sources. Pay attention to what you're reading. If the writer is talking about, for example, a series of studies conducted at different universities that came to opposing conclusions, seek out the studies themselves rather than citing to that article.
  • At the same time, tertiary sources can be a quick way to find new sources, and to understand more about a potentially dense article or book before you dive into it yourself.

Citing Your Research

Step 1 Avoid plagiarism.

  • To understand plagiarism, put yourself in the author's shoes. They put a lot of work into their own project to come up with those words. Properly citing them acknowledges that work and shows that you appreciate it.
  • Moreover, you are showing your teachers, editors, or colleagues that you are an upstanding and respectful member of the academic or journalistic community – and that you're making a productive contribution to the field of research.
  • Be aware that many high schools, universities, and other publications use plagiarism checkers that will find words you have copied.
  • Even if you think you won't get caught because you're using a relatively obscure source, the proliferation of plagiarism checkers makes it more likely that you will.

Step 2 Give credit for sources.

  • Always provide a citation for facts – things that can be proven true or false. This is so your reader can confirm the fact that you've presented in your report. The best source for a fact is always a primary source.
  • You also should cite opinions, analysis, speculation, or interpretation that is not your own. For example, suppose you have a source for your butterfly research that believes the butterflies are attracted to the park because people walk their dogs there and butterflies love dogs.
  • If you want to use this opinion in your report, credit it to the specific person that said it. Using phrases like "studies show" or "some scientists believe" won't tell your reader anything.
  • Instead, you might write "Meredith Monarch, butterfly expert at the University of Lepidoptera, speculated that butterflies frequent the park because they enjoy frolicking with the dogs there."

Step 3 Use the proper citation method.

  • Citation styles or formats may seem arbitrary to you, but for those in the field, the punctuation and formatting serve as short-hand. Someone familiar with a particular style can look at a citation and instantly know what each thing means.
  • Different fields use different citation methods, which can be confusing if you've done research in several areas of study.
  • For example, if you're writing a science paper, you typically will use APA (American Psychological Association) style.
  • However, for a research paper in history or political science, you'll more likely use the Turabian style.

Step 4 Quote and paraphrase responsibly.

  • Generally, you only want to have a direct quote from a source when the words themselves are of particular importance, or if the language is so original and succinct it would be nearly impossible to phrase it better.
  • For example, if you're writing a research paper on the Gettysburg Address, you likely will include direct quotes from the speech itself, since those words would hold particular importance.
  • A source's original words can provide color or enhance the meaning of your own thoughts, or can be quoted as an example of a particular line of thought.
  • When you paraphrase, you're putting the information from a source into your own words, rather than quoting the source directly.
  • Keep in mind that paraphrasing doesn't mean simply changing a few words to synonymous words, or altering the word order.
  • For example, "Quick brown foxes jump over lazy dogs" would not be an acceptable paraphrase of "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."

Expert Q&A

You might also like.

Write a Research Paper

  • ↑ https://library.georgetown.edu/tutorials/research-guides/15-steps
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/narrowtopic
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/introduction
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/citingsources
  • ↑ https://umassglobal.libguides.com/keywords
  • ↑ https://umb.libguides.com/PrimarySources/secondary
  • ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/researching/notes-from-research/
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/11-4-strategies-for-gathering-reliable-information/
  • ↑ https://libguides.mit.edu/citing
  • ↑ https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/choosingsources/chapter/degree-of-bias/
  • ↑ https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/choosingsources/chapter/primary-secondary-tertiary-sources/
  • ↑ https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/useinformationcorrectly/avoiding-plagiarism/1/
  • ↑ https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/wrd/chapter/crediting-your-sources/
  • ↑ https://pitt.libguides.com/citationhelp
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/using_research/quoting_paraphrasing_and_summarizing/index.html

About This Article

Jennifer Mueller, JD

To research effectively, look through library databases and digital archives to find helpful, reliable sources related to your topic. For example, if you’re researching something in the science field, you can visit your university library to look at articles in their scientific journals. While going through your sources, take notes by jotting down useful ideas on a notecard along with the page numbers you found them on. You may also want to highlight information in order to easily refer to what's important later on. For more tips from our co-author, including how to quote and cite a source responsibly, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Step-by-Step Guide & Research Rescue: Basic Research Strategy

  • Basic Research Strategy
  • Finding and Narrowing Your Topic
  • Finding Articles
  • Finding Books and Print Resources
  • Evaluating Credibility
  • Accessing and Storing Your Sources
  • Subject & Alphabetical Lists of Step by Step Guides
  • Citing Your Sources

THIS GUIDE WILL BE UPDATED August 2020. If you are currently using the guide, find the information valuable, or would like to continue having access to it, please send your feedback to [email protected].

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General research tips/skills.

Research can seem intimidating at first. For each topic, the process will be slightly different, but there are a few basic steps that can help you through the research process. By following these simple steps, you will become a research expert equipped with the skills you need to locate articles for any paper or project. Remember, research is not a rigid process; many times it is more effective to move fluidly between steps than follow them in order.

Finding and Narrowing Your Topic   Research starts with a foundation of background knowledge and research on a particular topic. Use this research to identify key terms and concepts to narrow your topic and search terms. Click here for background resources and more information.

Finding Articles Enter key terms and concepts into specific databases to find academic articles and other resources. Learn research tips and how to refine your results here .

Finding Books Books can be an excellent source of vast amounts of information. Click to be connected to the Library Catalog or for more information on finding books and other print resources.

Evaluating Credibility Academic papers require reliable sources to strengthen your arguments. Find more information on evaluating an article, book, or website's credibility here .

Accessing and Storing Your Sources Once you have found your articles and sources, save them so you don't have to search for them all over again. Learn how here !

Citing Your Sources Citations are a vital part of any scholarly paper or presentation. Make certain to cite your references correctly by clicking here to learn more.

Subject Guides

The library has subject specific librarians for every area of study, and those librarians have put together pages just for you! Here, you will find databases they recommend, along with reference material, websites, and various other research helps. To find topic specific databases and other resources recommended by your subject librarian, visit the subject guides !

On each subject guide, you will also find the subject librarians' contact information. If you ever feel like you could use a helping hand in finding specific articles or developing your topic, contact your subject librarian! You can send an email, give them a call, or set up an appointment to meet with them. Find your subject librarian's contact information by visiting the subject guides .

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How To Do Research: 15 Labs for the Social & Behavioral Sciences

  • By: Jane F. Gaultney & Hannah D. Peach
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications, Inc
  • Publication year: 2016
  • Online pub date: January 19, 2023
  • Discipline: Sociology , Criminology and Criminal Justice , Communication and Media Studies , Education , Psychology , Health , Political Science and International Relations
  • Methods: Statistical inference , Measurement , Survey research
  • DOI: https:// doi. org/10.4135/9781071909744
  • Keywords: discipline , journals , memory , population , recall , sleep , surveying Show all Show less
  • Print ISBN: 9781483385129
  • Online ISBN: 9781071909744
  • Buy the book icon link

Subject index

Designed to help students make the leap from learning about research to doing research, this manual provides an easy-to-understand walkthrough of the entire research process, from selecting a topic and conducting a literature review through presenting an APA-style paper or presentation. All of the 15 cross-disciplinary labs included are appropriate for use in the social, behavioral, and health sciences, and follow a consistent format: objective, description of a journal article, canned data, examples of what output should look like, pointers on interpreting the output, and a suggested activity for those who wish to collect their own data.

Front Matter

  • Note to Instructors
  • Note to Students
  • About the Authors

Part I: Before You Collect Data

  • Chapter 1: Finding a Topic, Finding Sources, and Critically Reading Appropriate Articles
  • Chapter 2: How to Write a Literature Review
  • Chapter 3: After the Literature Review: Theory→ Hypothesis → Design → Analysis → Results→Interpretation
  • Chapter 4: Ethics of Research

Part II: Collecting Data—Research Designs and Tools

  • Chapter 5: Qualitative Research
  • Chapter 6: Case Studies and Single-Subject Designs
  • Chapter 7: Surveys
  • Chapter 8: Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
  • Chapter 9: Correlational Design
  • Chapter 10: Regression Analysis
  • Chapter 11: Two-Group Designs
  • Chapter 12: Multiple-Groups Designs
  • Chapter 13: Factorial Designs

Part III: After Collecting Data

  • Chapter 14: Writing the Discussion Section, Sharing Your Findings Using a Poster or Oral Presentation
  • Chapter 15: Tables and Figures
  • In Conclusion

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How to Do Research: and How to Be a Researcher

How to Do Research: and How to Be a Researcher

How to Do Research: and How to Be a Researcher

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There are many textbooks on research methods, but these tend to be targeted at particular disciplines. Equally, there are plenty of books on popular science and other academic fields, but few that provide an overview of career opportunities or a framework for getting started. The principles underlying humanity’s past and continuing acquisition of knowledge are straightforward and are illustrated here across academic fields, from history to quantum physics—stories of clever and inventive people with good ideas, but also of personalities, politics, and power. This book draws together these strands to provide an informal and concise account of knowledge acquisition in all its guises. Having set out what research hopes to achieve, and why we are all researchers at heart, early chapters describe the basic principles underlying this—ways of thinking which may date back to the philosophers of the Athenian marketplace but are still powerful influences on the way research is carried out today. Drawing on a broad range of disciplines, the book takes the reader well beyond the pure ‘scientific method’, which might work well enough in physics or chemistry but falls apart in life sciences, let alone humanities. Later chapters consider the realities of carrying out research and the ways in which these continue to shape its progress—researchers and their personalities, their employers, funding, publication, political forces, and power structures.

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  • Research paper

How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide

A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.

Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.

This step-by-step guide takes you through the entire writing process, from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.

Table of contents

Understand the assignment, choose a research paper topic, conduct preliminary research, develop a thesis statement, create a research paper outline, write a first draft of the research paper, write the introduction, write a compelling body of text, write the conclusion, the second draft, the revision process, research paper checklist, free lecture slides.

Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:

  • Read it carefully, looking for anything confusing you might need to clarify with your professor.
  • Identify the assignment goal, deadline, length specifications, formatting, and submission method.
  • Make a bulleted list of the key points, then go back and cross completed items off as you’re writing.

Carefully consider your timeframe and word limit: be realistic, and plan enough time to research, write, and edit.

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There are many ways to generate an idea for a research paper, from brainstorming with pen and paper to talking it through with a fellow student or professor.

You can try free writing, which involves taking a broad topic and writing continuously for two or three minutes to identify absolutely anything relevant that could be interesting.

You can also gain inspiration from other research. The discussion or recommendations sections of research papers often include ideas for other specific topics that require further examination.

Once you have a broad subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that interests you, m eets the criteria of your assignment, and i s possible to research. Aim for ideas that are both original and specific:

  • A paper following the chronology of World War II would not be original or specific enough.
  • A paper on the experience of Danish citizens living close to the German border during World War II would be specific and could be original enough.

Note any discussions that seem important to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your paper around. Use a variety of sources , including journals, books, and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything glaring.

Do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that contradict your point of view.

  • Is there anything people seem to overlook in the sources you research?
  • Are there any heated debates you can address?
  • Do you have a unique take on your topic?
  • Have there been some recent developments that build on the extant research?

In this stage, you might find it helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. To write research questions, try to finish the following sentence: “I want to know how/what/why…”

A thesis statement is a statement of your central argument — it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what evidence and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer.

The thesis statement should be concise, contentious, and coherent. That means it should briefly summarize your argument in a sentence or two, make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis, and make a coherent point that relates to every part of the paper.

You will probably revise and refine the thesis statement as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process. Every paragraph should aim to support and develop this central claim.

A research paper outline is essentially a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings so that you know roughly what the paper will look like before you start writing.

A structure outline can help make the writing process much more efficient, so it’s worth dedicating some time to create one.

Your first draft won’t be perfect — you can polish later on. Your priorities at this stage are as follows:

  • Maintaining forward momentum — write now, perfect later.
  • Paying attention to clear organization and logical ordering of paragraphs and sentences, which will help when you come to the second draft.
  • Expressing your ideas as clearly as possible, so you know what you were trying to say when you come back to the text.

You do not need to start by writing the introduction. Begin where it feels most natural for you — some prefer to finish the most difficult sections first, while others choose to start with the easiest part. If you created an outline, use it as a map while you work.

Do not delete large sections of text. If you begin to dislike something you have written or find it doesn’t quite fit, move it to a different document, but don’t lose it completely — you never know if it might come in useful later.

Paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single claim or idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.

Example paragraph

George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” has had an enduring impact on thought about the relationship between politics and language. This impact is particularly obvious in light of the various critical review articles that have recently referenced the essay. For example, consider Mark Falcoff’s 2009 article in The National Review Online, “The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited,” in which he analyzes several common words (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more). Falcoff’s close analysis of the ambiguity built into political language intentionally mirrors Orwell’s own point-by-point analysis of the political language of his day. Even 63 years after its publication, Orwell’s essay is emulated by contemporary thinkers.

Citing sources

It’s also important to keep track of citations at this stage to avoid accidental plagiarism . Each time you use a source, make sure to take note of where the information came from.

You can use our free citation generators to automatically create citations and save your reference list as you go.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

The research paper introduction should address three questions: What, why, and how? After finishing the introduction, the reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worth reading, and how you’ll build your arguments.

What? Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.

Why? This is the most important, but also the most difficult, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your essay help define or answer?

How? To let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “map” of what will be discussed, briefly presenting the key elements of the paper in chronological order.

The major struggle faced by most writers is how to organize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason an outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide and, when writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.

One way to stay on track is to use your thesis statement and topic sentences . Check:

  • topic sentences against the thesis statement;
  • topic sentences against each other, for similarities and logical ordering;
  • and each sentence against the topic sentence of that paragraph.

Be aware of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something similar, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.

The research paper conclusion is designed to help your reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of finality.

Trace the course of the paper, emphasizing how it all comes together to prove your thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how you’ve settled the issues raised in the introduction.

You might also discuss the more general consequences of the argument, outline what the paper offers to future students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument raises but cannot or does not try to answer.

You should not :

  • Offer new arguments or essential information
  • Take up any more space than necessary
  • Begin with stock phrases that signal you are ending the paper (e.g. “In conclusion”)

There are four main considerations when it comes to the second draft.

  • Check how your vision of the paper lines up with the first draft and, more importantly, that your paper still answers the assignment.
  • Identify any assumptions that might require (more substantial) justification, keeping your reader’s perspective foremost in mind. Remove these points if you cannot substantiate them further.
  • Be open to rearranging your ideas. Check whether any sections feel out of place and whether your ideas could be better organized.
  • If you find that old ideas do not fit as well as you anticipated, you should cut them out or condense them. You might also find that new and well-suited ideas occurred to you during the writing of the first draft — now is the time to make them part of the paper.

The goal during the revision and proofreading process is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-articulated as possible. You can speed up the proofreading process by using the AI proofreader .

Global concerns

  • Confirm that your paper completes every task specified in your assignment sheet.
  • Check for logical organization and flow of paragraphs.
  • Check paragraphs against the introduction and thesis statement.

Fine-grained details

Check the content of each paragraph, making sure that:

  • each sentence helps support the topic sentence.
  • no unnecessary or irrelevant information is present.
  • all technical terms your audience might not know are identified.

Next, think about sentence structure , grammatical errors, and formatting . Check that you have correctly used transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas. Look for typos, cut unnecessary words, and check for consistency in aspects such as heading formatting and spellings .

Finally, you need to make sure your paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style you are using. For example, you might need to include an MLA heading  or create an APA title page .

Scribbr’s professional editors can help with the revision process with our award-winning proofreading services.

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Checklist: Research paper

I have followed all instructions in the assignment sheet.

My introduction presents my topic in an engaging way and provides necessary background information.

My introduction presents a clear, focused research problem and/or thesis statement .

My paper is logically organized using paragraphs and (if relevant) section headings .

Each paragraph is clearly focused on one central idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .

Each paragraph is relevant to my research problem or thesis statement.

I have used appropriate transitions  to clarify the connections between sections, paragraphs, and sentences.

My conclusion provides a concise answer to the research question or emphasizes how the thesis has been supported.

My conclusion shows how my research has contributed to knowledge or understanding of my topic.

My conclusion does not present any new points or information essential to my argument.

I have provided an in-text citation every time I refer to ideas or information from a source.

I have included a reference list at the end of my paper, consistently formatted according to a specific citation style .

I have thoroughly revised my paper and addressed any feedback from my professor or supervisor.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (page numbers, headers, spacing, etc.).

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How to Do Research: A Step-By-Step Guide: Get Started

  • Get Started
  • 1a. Select a Topic
  • 1b. Develop Research Questions
  • 1c. Identify Keywords
  • 1d. Find Background Information
  • 1e. Refine a Topic
  • 2a. Search Strategies
  • 2d. Articles
  • 2e. Videos & Images
  • 2f. Databases
  • 2g. Websites
  • 2h. Grey Literature
  • 2i. Open Access Materials
  • 3a. Evaluate Sources
  • 3b. Primary vs. Secondary
  • 3c. Types of Periodicals
  • 4a. Take Notes
  • 4b. Outline the Paper
  • 4c. Incorporate Source Material
  • 5a. Avoid Plagiarism
  • 5b. Zotero & MyBib
  • 5c. MLA Formatting
  • 5d. MLA Citation Examples
  • 5e. APA Formatting
  • 5f. APA Citation Examples
  • 5g. Annotated Bibliographies

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Research Process Overview

Step 1.  Develop a topic Select a Topic | Develop Research Questions | Identify Keywords | Find Background Information | Refine a Topic

Step 2. Locate information Search Strategies | Books | eBooks | Articles  | Videos & Images | Databases | Websites | Grey Literature

Step 3. Evaluate and analyze information Evaluate Sources | Primary vs Secondary | Types of Periodicals

Step 4. Write, organize, and communicate information Take Notes | Outline the Paper | Incorporate Source Material

Step 5. Cite sources Avoid Plagiarism | Zotero & MyBib | MLA | APA | Chicago Style | Annotated Bibliographies

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How to Do Research in 7 Simple Steps

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to do research

It’s 2 am, and you’re on your fifth cup of coffee (or was it your sixth?). You’re crouched at a table in some dark corner of the library surrounded by fifteen open books. Equally as many tabs are open on your laptop, and you still haven’t written a word of the paper that’s due in 7 hours.

Many things can explain how you got to this point, including procrastination , poor organization , and a messy schedule .

Very often, however, the problem is a lack of research skills .

And it’s not your fault. High school does a poor job of teaching you how to do research, and most college classes do little better. It feels like you’re expected to figure it out through trial and error.

I think we can do better than that, however. In this guide, I’m going to show you the 7-step process for researching everything from a 10-page term paper to a final presentation. Not only will you learn how to do better research; you’ll also learn how to research more efficiently.

What Is Research?

Before we go any further, what  is  research?

At its core, research is an attempt to answer a question. This could be anything from “How can we reduce infant mortality rates?” to “Why does salt make food taste good?”

To answer your question, you consult books, academic papers, newspaper articles, historical records, or anything else that could be helpful. The broad term for these things is “sources.”

And, usually, once you’ve done the research, you present or summarize it in some way. In many cases, this means writing an essay or another type of scholarly paper, but it could also mean giving a presentation or even creating a YouTube video.

Even if you have no interest in academia, research is an extremely useful skill to learn. When you know how to do research, it’s much easier to improve your life and work more effectively . Instead of having to ask someone every time you have a question, research will help you solve problems yourself (and help others in turn).

Note:  Research can also mean conducting surveys, performing experiments, or going on archaeological digs. While these activities are crucial for advancing human knowledge, I won’t be discussing them here. This article focuses on the research you can do with only a library and an internet connection.

The 7 Steps of the Research Process

Research can feel overwhelming, but it’s more manageable when you break it down into steps. In my experience, the research process has seven main steps:

  • Find a topic
  • Refine your topic
  • Find key sources
  • Take notes on your sources
  • Create your paper or presentation
  • Do additional research as necessary
  • Cite your sources

Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail.

1. Find a Topic

If you don’t have a topic, your research will be undirected and inefficient. You’ll spend hours reading dozens of sources, all because you didn’t take a few minutes to develop a topic.

How do you come up with a topic? My number one suggestion is to create a mind map.

A mind map is a visual way to generate ideas. Here’s how it works:

  • Get a piece of paper and a pen. Make sure the paper isn’t too small — you want lots of room for your ideas.
  • Draw an oval in the center of the paper.
  • Inside that oval, write a super vague topic. Start with whatever your professor has assigned you.
  • Draw lines from the oval towards the edges of the paper.
  • Draw smaller ovals connected to each of these lines.
  • Inside the smaller ovals, write more specific ideas/topics related to the central one.
  • Repeat until you’ve found 3-5 topic ideas.

When I write it out step by step, it sounds kind of strange. But trust me, it works . Anytime I’m stuck on a writing assignment, this method is my go-to. It’s basically magic.

To see what mind mapping looks like in practice, check out this clip:

Want to create a digital mind map like the one Thomas uses in the video? Check out Coggle .

2. Refine Your Topic

Okay, so now you have a list of 3-5 topics. They’re all still pretty general, and you need to narrow them down to one topic that you can research in depth.

To do this, spend 15 minutes doing some general research on each topic. Specifically, take each topic and plug it into your library’s catalog and database search tools.

The details of this process will vary from library to library. This is where consulting a librarian can be super helpful. They can show you how to use the tools I mentioned, as well as point you to some you probably don’t know about.

Furthermore, I suggest you ask your professor for recommendations. In some cases, they may even have created a resource page specifically for your assignment.

Once you’ve found out where to search, type in your topic. I like to use a mixture of the library catalog, a general academic database like EBSCO Host , and a search on Google Scholar .

google-scholar-screenshot

What exactly are you trying to find? Basically, you’re trying to find a topic with a sufficient quantity and variety of sources.

Ideally, you want something with both journal articles and books, as this demonstrates that lots of scholars are seriously engaging with the topic.

Of course, in some cases (if the topic is very cutting edge, for example), you may be only able to find journal articles. That’s fine, so long as there are enough perspectives available.

Using this technique, you’ll be able to quickly eliminate some topics. Be ruthless. If you’re not finding anything after 15 minutes, move on. And don’t get attached to a topic.

Tip: If you find two topics with equal numbers of sources available, ask your professor to help you break the tie. They can give you insight into which topic is super common (and thus difficult to write about originally), as well as which they find more interesting.

Now that you have your topic, it’s time to narrow down your sources.

3. Find Key Sources

If you’ve picked a good topic, then you probably have lots of sources to work with. This is both a blessing and a curse. A variety of sources shows that there’s something worth saying about your topic, and it also gives you plenty of material to cite.

But this abundance can quickly turn into a nightmare in which you spend hours reading dense, mind-numbing material without getting any closer to actually producing a paper.

How do you keep this from happening? Choose 3–5  key sources and focus on them intently. Sure, you may end up needing more sources, especially if this is a long paper or if the professor requires it. But if you start out trying to read 15 sources, you’re likely to get overwhelmed and frustrated.

Focusing on a few key sources is powerful because it:

  • Lets you engage deeply with each source.
  • Gives you a variety of perspectives.
  • Points you to further resources.
  • Keeps you focused.

4. Read and Take Notes

But what do you do with these sources, exactly? You need to read them the right way . Follow these steps to effectively read academic books and articles:

Go through the article and look at the section headings. If any words or terms jump out at you, make note of them. Also, glance at the beginning sentences of each section and paragraph to get an overall idea of the author’s argument.

The goal here isn’t to comprehend deeply, but to prime your mind for effective reading .

Write down any questions you have after skimming the article, as well as any general questions you hope the article can answer. Always keep your topic in mind.

Read Actively

Now, start reading. But don’t just passively go through the information like you’re scrolling through Tumblr. Read with a pen or pencil in hand , underlining any unfamiliar terms or interesting ideas.

Make notes in the margins about other sources or concepts that come to mind. If you’re reading a library book, you can make notes on a separate piece of paper.

Once you’ve finished reading, take a short break. Have a cup of tea or coffee. Go for a walk around the library. Stretch. Just get your mind away from the research for a moment without resorting to distracting, low-density fun .

Now come back to the article and look at the things you underlined or noted. Gather these notes and transfer them to a program like Evernote .

If you need to look up a term, do that, and then add that definition to your notes. Also, make note of any sources the author cites that look helpful.

But what if I’m reading a book?   Won’t this take forever?  No, because you’re not going to read the entire book.

For most research you’ll do in college, reading a whole academic book is overkill . Just skim the table of contents and the book itself to find chapters or sections that look relevant.

Then, read each of those in the same way you would read an article. Also, be sure to glance at the book’s bibliography, which is a goldmine for finding additional sources.

Note: The above method is a variation on the classic SQ3R method , adapted slightly since we’re not interested in taking notes from textbooks .

5. Create Your Paper or Presentation

“You can’t turn in raw research.”

Research is crucial to crafting a great paper or presentation, but it’s also a great way to procrastinate. I had classmates in college who would spend 8 hours researching a 5-page paper. That’s way too much!

At some point, you need to stop researching and start writing (or whatever method you’re using to present your research).

How do you decide when to stop researching? There’s no strict rule, but in general I wouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes per page of the final paper.

So if the final paper is supposed to be 10 pages, don’t spend more than 5 hours researching it.

6. Do Additional Research (As Necessary)

Once you’ve started writing the draft of your paper, you’ll probably find a few gaps. Maybe you realize that one scholar’s argument isn’t relevant to your paper, or that you need more information for a particular section. In this case, you are free to return to researching as necessary.

But again, beware the trap of procrastination masquerading as productivity! Only do as much additional research as you need to answer your question. Don’t get pulled into rabbit holes or dragged off on tangents. Get in there, do your research, and get back to writing .

To keep yourself focused, I suggest keeping a separate document or piece of paper nearby to note points that need additional research.

Every time you encounter such a point, make note of it in the document and then keep writing. Only stop when you can’t get any further without additional research.

It’s much better to get a full draft done first. Otherwise, you risk suffering a cognitive switching penalty , making it harder to regain your focus.

7. Cite Your Sources

Whether you’re creating an oral presentation, essay, or video, you’ll need to cite your sources. Plagiarism is a serious offense, so don’t take any chances.

How to cite your sources depends on the subject and the professor’s expectations. Chicago, MLA, and APA are the most common citation formats to use in college, but there are thousands more.

Luckily, you don’t need to painstakingly type each of your citations by hand or slog through a style manual. Instead, you can use a tool like Zotero to track and generate your citations. To make things even easier, install the Zotero Connector browser extension. It can automatically pull citation information from entries in an online library catalog.

Once you’ve collected all of your sources, Zotero can generate a properly formatted works cited page or bibliography at just the click of a button.

For help setting up and using Zotero, read this guide . If you need further assistance, ask a librarian.

Go Research With Confidence

I hope you now understand how to do research with more confidence. If you follow the procedures I’ve covered in this article, you’ll waste less time, perform more effective research, and ultimately have the material for a winning essay.

Curious about how to use your research to write a great research paper? Check out this guide .

Image Credits: picking book from shelf

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Doing Research: A New Researcher’s Guide pp 1–15 Cite as

What Is Research, and Why Do People Do It?

  • James Hiebert 6 ,
  • Jinfa Cai 7 ,
  • Stephen Hwang 7 ,
  • Anne K Morris 6 &
  • Charles Hohensee 6  
  • Open Access
  • First Online: 03 December 2022

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Part of the Research in Mathematics Education book series (RME)

Abstractspiepr Abs1

Every day people do research as they gather information to learn about something of interest. In the scientific world, however, research means something different than simply gathering information. Scientific research is characterized by its careful planning and observing, by its relentless efforts to understand and explain, and by its commitment to learn from everyone else seriously engaged in research. We call this kind of research scientific inquiry and define it as “formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses.” By “hypotheses” we do not mean the hypotheses you encounter in statistics courses. We mean predictions about what you expect to find and rationales for why you made these predictions. Throughout this and the remaining chapters we make clear that the process of scientific inquiry applies to all kinds of research studies and data, both qualitative and quantitative.

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Part I. What Is Research?

Have you ever studied something carefully because you wanted to know more about it? Maybe you wanted to know more about your grandmother’s life when she was younger so you asked her to tell you stories from her childhood, or maybe you wanted to know more about a fertilizer you were about to use in your garden so you read the ingredients on the package and looked them up online. According to the dictionary definition, you were doing research.

Recall your high school assignments asking you to “research” a topic. The assignment likely included consulting a variety of sources that discussed the topic, perhaps including some “original” sources. Often, the teacher referred to your product as a “research paper.”

Were you conducting research when you interviewed your grandmother or wrote high school papers reviewing a particular topic? Our view is that you were engaged in part of the research process, but only a small part. In this book, we reserve the word “research” for what it means in the scientific world, that is, for scientific research or, more pointedly, for scientific inquiry .

Exercise 1.1

Before you read any further, write a definition of what you think scientific inquiry is. Keep it short—Two to three sentences. You will periodically update this definition as you read this chapter and the remainder of the book.

This book is about scientific inquiry—what it is and how to do it. For starters, scientific inquiry is a process, a particular way of finding out about something that involves a number of phases. Each phase of the process constitutes one aspect of scientific inquiry. You are doing scientific inquiry as you engage in each phase, but you have not done scientific inquiry until you complete the full process. Each phase is necessary but not sufficient.

In this chapter, we set the stage by defining scientific inquiry—describing what it is and what it is not—and by discussing what it is good for and why people do it. The remaining chapters build directly on the ideas presented in this chapter.

A first thing to know is that scientific inquiry is not all or nothing. “Scientificness” is a continuum. Inquiries can be more scientific or less scientific. What makes an inquiry more scientific? You might be surprised there is no universally agreed upon answer to this question. None of the descriptors we know of are sufficient by themselves to define scientific inquiry. But all of them give you a way of thinking about some aspects of the process of scientific inquiry. Each one gives you different insights.

An image of the book's description with the words like research, science, and inquiry and what the word research meant in the scientific world.

Exercise 1.2

As you read about each descriptor below, think about what would make an inquiry more or less scientific. If you think a descriptor is important, use it to revise your definition of scientific inquiry.

Creating an Image of Scientific Inquiry

We will present three descriptors of scientific inquiry. Each provides a different perspective and emphasizes a different aspect of scientific inquiry. We will draw on all three descriptors to compose our definition of scientific inquiry.

Descriptor 1. Experience Carefully Planned in Advance

Sir Ronald Fisher, often called the father of modern statistical design, once referred to research as “experience carefully planned in advance” (1935, p. 8). He said that humans are always learning from experience, from interacting with the world around them. Usually, this learning is haphazard rather than the result of a deliberate process carried out over an extended period of time. Research, Fisher said, was learning from experience, but experience carefully planned in advance.

This phrase can be fully appreciated by looking at each word. The fact that scientific inquiry is based on experience means that it is based on interacting with the world. These interactions could be thought of as the stuff of scientific inquiry. In addition, it is not just any experience that counts. The experience must be carefully planned . The interactions with the world must be conducted with an explicit, describable purpose, and steps must be taken to make the intended learning as likely as possible. This planning is an integral part of scientific inquiry; it is not just a preparation phase. It is one of the things that distinguishes scientific inquiry from many everyday learning experiences. Finally, these steps must be taken beforehand and the purpose of the inquiry must be articulated in advance of the experience. Clearly, scientific inquiry does not happen by accident, by just stumbling into something. Stumbling into something unexpected and interesting can happen while engaged in scientific inquiry, but learning does not depend on it and serendipity does not make the inquiry scientific.

Descriptor 2. Observing Something and Trying to Explain Why It Is the Way It Is

When we were writing this chapter and googled “scientific inquiry,” the first entry was: “Scientific inquiry refers to the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work.” The emphasis is on studying, or observing, and then explaining . This descriptor takes the image of scientific inquiry beyond carefully planned experience and includes explaining what was experienced.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “explain” means “(a) to make known, (b) to make plain or understandable, (c) to give the reason or cause of, and (d) to show the logical development or relations of” (Merriam-Webster, n.d. ). We will use all these definitions. Taken together, they suggest that to explain an observation means to understand it by finding reasons (or causes) for why it is as it is. In this sense of scientific inquiry, the following are synonyms: explaining why, understanding why, and reasoning about causes and effects. Our image of scientific inquiry now includes planning, observing, and explaining why.

An image represents the observation required in the scientific inquiry including planning and explaining.

We need to add a final note about this descriptor. We have phrased it in a way that suggests “observing something” means you are observing something in real time—observing the way things are or the way things are changing. This is often true. But, observing could mean observing data that already have been collected, maybe by someone else making the original observations (e.g., secondary analysis of NAEP data or analysis of existing video recordings of classroom instruction). We will address secondary analyses more fully in Chap. 4 . For now, what is important is that the process requires explaining why the data look like they do.

We must note that for us, the term “data” is not limited to numerical or quantitative data such as test scores. Data can also take many nonquantitative forms, including written survey responses, interview transcripts, journal entries, video recordings of students, teachers, and classrooms, text messages, and so forth.

An image represents the data explanation as it is not limited and takes numerous non-quantitative forms including an interview, journal entries, etc.

Exercise 1.3

What are the implications of the statement that just “observing” is not enough to count as scientific inquiry? Does this mean that a detailed description of a phenomenon is not scientific inquiry?

Find sources that define research in education that differ with our position, that say description alone, without explanation, counts as scientific research. Identify the precise points where the opinions differ. What are the best arguments for each of the positions? Which do you prefer? Why?

Descriptor 3. Updating Everyone’s Thinking in Response to More and Better Information

This descriptor focuses on a third aspect of scientific inquiry: updating and advancing the field’s understanding of phenomena that are investigated. This descriptor foregrounds a powerful characteristic of scientific inquiry: the reliability (or trustworthiness) of what is learned and the ultimate inevitability of this learning to advance human understanding of phenomena. Humans might choose not to learn from scientific inquiry, but history suggests that scientific inquiry always has the potential to advance understanding and that, eventually, humans take advantage of these new understandings.

Before exploring these bold claims a bit further, note that this descriptor uses “information” in the same way the previous two descriptors used “experience” and “observations.” These are the stuff of scientific inquiry and we will use them often, sometimes interchangeably. Frequently, we will use the term “data” to stand for all these terms.

An overriding goal of scientific inquiry is for everyone to learn from what one scientist does. Much of this book is about the methods you need to use so others have faith in what you report and can learn the same things you learned. This aspect of scientific inquiry has many implications.

One implication is that scientific inquiry is not a private practice. It is a public practice available for others to see and learn from. Notice how different this is from everyday learning. When you happen to learn something from your everyday experience, often only you gain from the experience. The fact that research is a public practice means it is also a social one. It is best conducted by interacting with others along the way: soliciting feedback at each phase, taking opportunities to present work-in-progress, and benefitting from the advice of others.

A second implication is that you, as the researcher, must be committed to sharing what you are doing and what you are learning in an open and transparent way. This allows all phases of your work to be scrutinized and critiqued. This is what gives your work credibility. The reliability or trustworthiness of your findings depends on your colleagues recognizing that you have used all appropriate methods to maximize the chances that your claims are justified by the data.

A third implication of viewing scientific inquiry as a collective enterprise is the reverse of the second—you must be committed to receiving comments from others. You must treat your colleagues as fair and honest critics even though it might sometimes feel otherwise. You must appreciate their job, which is to remain skeptical while scrutinizing what you have done in considerable detail. To provide the best help to you, they must remain skeptical about your conclusions (when, for example, the data are difficult for them to interpret) until you offer a convincing logical argument based on the information you share. A rather harsh but good-to-remember statement of the role of your friendly critics was voiced by Karl Popper, a well-known twentieth century philosopher of science: “. . . if you are interested in the problem which I tried to solve by my tentative assertion, you may help me by criticizing it as severely as you can” (Popper, 1968, p. 27).

A final implication of this third descriptor is that, as someone engaged in scientific inquiry, you have no choice but to update your thinking when the data support a different conclusion. This applies to your own data as well as to those of others. When data clearly point to a specific claim, even one that is quite different than you expected, you must reconsider your position. If the outcome is replicated multiple times, you need to adjust your thinking accordingly. Scientific inquiry does not let you pick and choose which data to believe; it mandates that everyone update their thinking when the data warrant an update.

Doing Scientific Inquiry

We define scientific inquiry in an operational sense—what does it mean to do scientific inquiry? What kind of process would satisfy all three descriptors: carefully planning an experience in advance; observing and trying to explain what you see; and, contributing to updating everyone’s thinking about an important phenomenon?

We define scientific inquiry as formulating , testing , and revising hypotheses about phenomena of interest.

Of course, we are not the only ones who define it in this way. The definition for the scientific method posted by the editors of Britannica is: “a researcher develops a hypothesis, tests it through various means, and then modifies the hypothesis on the basis of the outcome of the tests and experiments” (Britannica, n.d. ).

An image represents the scientific inquiry definition given by the editors of Britannica and also defines the hypothesis on the basis of the experiments.

Notice how defining scientific inquiry this way satisfies each of the descriptors. “Carefully planning an experience in advance” is exactly what happens when formulating a hypothesis about a phenomenon of interest and thinking about how to test it. “ Observing a phenomenon” occurs when testing a hypothesis, and “ explaining ” what is found is required when revising a hypothesis based on the data. Finally, “updating everyone’s thinking” comes from comparing publicly the original with the revised hypothesis.

Doing scientific inquiry, as we have defined it, underscores the value of accumulating knowledge rather than generating random bits of knowledge. Formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses is an ongoing process, with each revised hypothesis begging for another test, whether by the same researcher or by new researchers. The editors of Britannica signaled this cyclic process by adding the following phrase to their definition of the scientific method: “The modified hypothesis is then retested, further modified, and tested again.” Scientific inquiry creates a process that encourages each study to build on the studies that have gone before. Through collective engagement in this process of building study on top of study, the scientific community works together to update its thinking.

Before exploring more fully the meaning of “formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses,” we need to acknowledge that this is not the only way researchers define research. Some researchers prefer a less formal definition, one that includes more serendipity, less planning, less explanation. You might have come across more open definitions such as “research is finding out about something.” We prefer the tighter hypothesis formulation, testing, and revision definition because we believe it provides a single, coherent map for conducting research that addresses many of the thorny problems educational researchers encounter. We believe it is the most useful orientation toward research and the most helpful to learn as a beginning researcher.

A final clarification of our definition is that it applies equally to qualitative and quantitative research. This is a familiar distinction in education that has generated much discussion. You might think our definition favors quantitative methods over qualitative methods because the language of hypothesis formulation and testing is often associated with quantitative methods. In fact, we do not favor one method over another. In Chap. 4 , we will illustrate how our definition fits research using a range of quantitative and qualitative methods.

Exercise 1.4

Look for ways to extend what the field knows in an area that has already received attention by other researchers. Specifically, you can search for a program of research carried out by more experienced researchers that has some revised hypotheses that remain untested. Identify a revised hypothesis that you might like to test.

Unpacking the Terms Formulating, Testing, and Revising Hypotheses

To get a full sense of the definition of scientific inquiry we will use throughout this book, it is helpful to spend a little time with each of the key terms.

We first want to make clear that we use the term “hypothesis” as it is defined in most dictionaries and as it used in many scientific fields rather than as it is usually defined in educational statistics courses. By “hypothesis,” we do not mean a null hypothesis that is accepted or rejected by statistical analysis. Rather, we use “hypothesis” in the sense conveyed by the following definitions: “An idea or explanation for something that is based on known facts but has not yet been proved” (Cambridge University Press, n.d. ), and “An unproved theory, proposition, or supposition, tentatively accepted to explain certain facts and to provide a basis for further investigation or argument” (Agnes & Guralnik, 2008 ).

We distinguish two parts to “hypotheses.” Hypotheses consist of predictions and rationales . Predictions are statements about what you expect to find when you inquire about something. Rationales are explanations for why you made the predictions you did, why you believe your predictions are correct. So, for us “formulating hypotheses” means making explicit predictions and developing rationales for the predictions.

“Testing hypotheses” means making observations that allow you to assess in what ways your predictions were correct and in what ways they were incorrect. In education research, it is rarely useful to think of your predictions as either right or wrong. Because of the complexity of most issues you will investigate, most predictions will be right in some ways and wrong in others.

By studying the observations you make (data you collect) to test your hypotheses, you can revise your hypotheses to better align with the observations. This means revising your predictions plus revising your rationales to justify your adjusted predictions. Even though you might not run another test, formulating revised hypotheses is an essential part of conducting a research study. Comparing your original and revised hypotheses informs everyone of what you learned by conducting your study. In addition, a revised hypothesis sets the stage for you or someone else to extend your study and accumulate more knowledge of the phenomenon.

We should note that not everyone makes a clear distinction between predictions and rationales as two aspects of hypotheses. In fact, common, non-scientific uses of the word “hypothesis” may limit it to only a prediction or only an explanation (or rationale). We choose to explicitly include both prediction and rationale in our definition of hypothesis, not because we assert this should be the universal definition, but because we want to foreground the importance of both parts acting in concert. Using “hypothesis” to represent both prediction and rationale could hide the two aspects, but we make them explicit because they provide different kinds of information. It is usually easier to make predictions than develop rationales because predictions can be guesses, hunches, or gut feelings about which you have little confidence. Developing a compelling rationale requires careful thought plus reading what other researchers have found plus talking with your colleagues. Often, while you are developing your rationale you will find good reasons to change your predictions. Developing good rationales is the engine that drives scientific inquiry. Rationales are essentially descriptions of how much you know about the phenomenon you are studying. Throughout this guide, we will elaborate on how developing good rationales drives scientific inquiry. For now, we simply note that it can sharpen your predictions and help you to interpret your data as you test your hypotheses.

An image represents the rationale and the prediction for the scientific inquiry and different types of information provided by the terms.

Hypotheses in education research take a variety of forms or types. This is because there are a variety of phenomena that can be investigated. Investigating educational phenomena is sometimes best done using qualitative methods, sometimes using quantitative methods, and most often using mixed methods (e.g., Hay, 2016 ; Weis et al. 2019a ; Weisner, 2005 ). This means that, given our definition, hypotheses are equally applicable to qualitative and quantitative investigations.

Hypotheses take different forms when they are used to investigate different kinds of phenomena. Two very different activities in education could be labeled conducting experiments and descriptions. In an experiment, a hypothesis makes a prediction about anticipated changes, say the changes that occur when a treatment or intervention is applied. You might investigate how students’ thinking changes during a particular kind of instruction.

A second type of hypothesis, relevant for descriptive research, makes a prediction about what you will find when you investigate and describe the nature of a situation. The goal is to understand a situation as it exists rather than to understand a change from one situation to another. In this case, your prediction is what you expect to observe. Your rationale is the set of reasons for making this prediction; it is your current explanation for why the situation will look like it does.

You will probably read, if you have not already, that some researchers say you do not need a prediction to conduct a descriptive study. We will discuss this point of view in Chap. 2 . For now, we simply claim that scientific inquiry, as we have defined it, applies to all kinds of research studies. Descriptive studies, like others, not only benefit from formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses, but also need hypothesis formulating, testing, and revising.

One reason we define research as formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses is that if you think of research in this way you are less likely to go wrong. It is a useful guide for the entire process, as we will describe in detail in the chapters ahead. For example, as you build the rationale for your predictions, you are constructing the theoretical framework for your study (Chap. 3 ). As you work out the methods you will use to test your hypothesis, every decision you make will be based on asking, “Will this help me formulate or test or revise my hypothesis?” (Chap. 4 ). As you interpret the results of testing your predictions, you will compare them to what you predicted and examine the differences, focusing on how you must revise your hypotheses (Chap. 5 ). By anchoring the process to formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses, you will make smart decisions that yield a coherent and well-designed study.

Exercise 1.5

Compare the concept of formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses with the descriptions of scientific inquiry contained in Scientific Research in Education (NRC, 2002 ). How are they similar or different?

Exercise 1.6

Provide an example to illustrate and emphasize the differences between everyday learning/thinking and scientific inquiry.

Learning from Doing Scientific Inquiry

We noted earlier that a measure of what you have learned by conducting a research study is found in the differences between your original hypothesis and your revised hypothesis based on the data you collected to test your hypothesis. We will elaborate this statement in later chapters, but we preview our argument here.

Even before collecting data, scientific inquiry requires cycles of making a prediction, developing a rationale, refining your predictions, reading and studying more to strengthen your rationale, refining your predictions again, and so forth. And, even if you have run through several such cycles, you still will likely find that when you test your prediction you will be partly right and partly wrong. The results will support some parts of your predictions but not others, or the results will “kind of” support your predictions. A critical part of scientific inquiry is making sense of your results by interpreting them against your predictions. Carefully describing what aspects of your data supported your predictions, what aspects did not, and what data fell outside of any predictions is not an easy task, but you cannot learn from your study without doing this analysis.

An image represents the cycle of events that take place before making predictions, developing the rationale, and studying the prediction and rationale multiple times.

Analyzing the matches and mismatches between your predictions and your data allows you to formulate different rationales that would have accounted for more of the data. The best revised rationale is the one that accounts for the most data. Once you have revised your rationales, you can think about the predictions they best justify or explain. It is by comparing your original rationales to your new rationales that you can sort out what you learned from your study.

Suppose your study was an experiment. Maybe you were investigating the effects of a new instructional intervention on students’ learning. Your original rationale was your explanation for why the intervention would change the learning outcomes in a particular way. Your revised rationale explained why the changes that you observed occurred like they did and why your revised predictions are better. Maybe your original rationale focused on the potential of the activities if they were implemented in ideal ways and your revised rationale included the factors that are likely to affect how teachers implement them. By comparing the before and after rationales, you are describing what you learned—what you can explain now that you could not before. Another way of saying this is that you are describing how much more you understand now than before you conducted your study.

Revised predictions based on carefully planned and collected data usually exhibit some of the following features compared with the originals: more precision, more completeness, and broader scope. Revised rationales have more explanatory power and become more complete, more aligned with the new predictions, sharper, and overall more convincing.

Part II. Why Do Educators Do Research?

Doing scientific inquiry is a lot of work. Each phase of the process takes time, and you will often cycle back to improve earlier phases as you engage in later phases. Because of the significant effort required, you should make sure your study is worth it. So, from the beginning, you should think about the purpose of your study. Why do you want to do it? And, because research is a social practice, you should also think about whether the results of your study are likely to be important and significant to the education community.

If you are doing research in the way we have described—as scientific inquiry—then one purpose of your study is to understand , not just to describe or evaluate or report. As we noted earlier, when you formulate hypotheses, you are developing rationales that explain why things might be like they are. In our view, trying to understand and explain is what separates research from other kinds of activities, like evaluating or describing.

One reason understanding is so important is that it allows researchers to see how or why something works like it does. When you see how something works, you are better able to predict how it might work in other contexts, under other conditions. And, because conditions, or contextual factors, matter a lot in education, gaining insights into applying your findings to other contexts increases the contributions of your work and its importance to the broader education community.

Consequently, the purposes of research studies in education often include the more specific aim of identifying and understanding the conditions under which the phenomena being studied work like the observations suggest. A classic example of this kind of study in mathematics education was reported by William Brownell and Harold Moser in 1949 . They were trying to establish which method of subtracting whole numbers could be taught most effectively—the regrouping method or the equal additions method. However, they realized that effectiveness might depend on the conditions under which the methods were taught—“meaningfully” versus “mechanically.” So, they designed a study that crossed the two instructional approaches with the two different methods (regrouping and equal additions). Among other results, they found that these conditions did matter. The regrouping method was more effective under the meaningful condition than the mechanical condition, but the same was not true for the equal additions algorithm.

What do education researchers want to understand? In our view, the ultimate goal of education is to offer all students the best possible learning opportunities. So, we believe the ultimate purpose of scientific inquiry in education is to develop understanding that supports the improvement of learning opportunities for all students. We say “ultimate” because there are lots of issues that must be understood to improve learning opportunities for all students. Hypotheses about many aspects of education are connected, ultimately, to students’ learning. For example, formulating and testing a hypothesis that preservice teachers need to engage in particular kinds of activities in their coursework in order to teach particular topics well is, ultimately, connected to improving students’ learning opportunities. So is hypothesizing that school districts often devote relatively few resources to instructional leadership training or hypothesizing that positioning mathematics as a tool students can use to combat social injustice can help students see the relevance of mathematics to their lives.

We do not exclude the importance of research on educational issues more removed from improving students’ learning opportunities, but we do think the argument for their importance will be more difficult to make. If there is no way to imagine a connection between your hypothesis and improving learning opportunities for students, even a distant connection, we recommend you reconsider whether it is an important hypothesis within the education community.

Notice that we said the ultimate goal of education is to offer all students the best possible learning opportunities. For too long, educators have been satisfied with a goal of offering rich learning opportunities for lots of students, sometimes even for just the majority of students, but not necessarily for all students. Evaluations of success often are based on outcomes that show high averages. In other words, if many students have learned something, or even a smaller number have learned a lot, educators may have been satisfied. The problem is that there is usually a pattern in the groups of students who receive lower quality opportunities—students of color and students who live in poor areas, urban and rural. This is not acceptable. Consequently, we emphasize the premise that the purpose of education research is to offer rich learning opportunities to all students.

One way to make sure you will be able to convince others of the importance of your study is to consider investigating some aspect of teachers’ shared instructional problems. Historically, researchers in education have set their own research agendas, regardless of the problems teachers are facing in schools. It is increasingly recognized that teachers have had trouble applying to their own classrooms what researchers find. To address this problem, a researcher could partner with a teacher—better yet, a small group of teachers—and talk with them about instructional problems they all share. These discussions can create a rich pool of problems researchers can consider. If researchers pursued one of these problems (preferably alongside teachers), the connection to improving learning opportunities for all students could be direct and immediate. “Grounding a research question in instructional problems that are experienced across multiple teachers’ classrooms helps to ensure that the answer to the question will be of sufficient scope to be relevant and significant beyond the local context” (Cai et al., 2019b , p. 115).

As a beginning researcher, determining the relevance and importance of a research problem is especially challenging. We recommend talking with advisors, other experienced researchers, and peers to test the educational importance of possible research problems and topics of study. You will also learn much more about the issue of research importance when you read Chap. 5 .

Exercise 1.7

Identify a problem in education that is closely connected to improving learning opportunities and a problem that has a less close connection. For each problem, write a brief argument (like a logical sequence of if-then statements) that connects the problem to all students’ learning opportunities.

Part III. Conducting Research as a Practice of Failing Productively

Scientific inquiry involves formulating hypotheses about phenomena that are not fully understood—by you or anyone else. Even if you are able to inform your hypotheses with lots of knowledge that has already been accumulated, you are likely to find that your prediction is not entirely accurate. This is normal. Remember, scientific inquiry is a process of constantly updating your thinking. More and better information means revising your thinking, again, and again, and again. Because you never fully understand a complicated phenomenon and your hypotheses never produce completely accurate predictions, it is easy to believe you are somehow failing.

The trick is to fail upward, to fail to predict accurately in ways that inform your next hypothesis so you can make a better prediction. Some of the best-known researchers in education have been open and honest about the many times their predictions were wrong and, based on the results of their studies and those of others, they continuously updated their thinking and changed their hypotheses.

A striking example of publicly revising (actually reversing) hypotheses due to incorrect predictions is found in the work of Lee J. Cronbach, one of the most distinguished educational psychologists of the twentieth century. In 1955, Cronbach delivered his presidential address to the American Psychological Association. Titling it “Two Disciplines of Scientific Psychology,” Cronbach proposed a rapprochement between two research approaches—correlational studies that focused on individual differences and experimental studies that focused on instructional treatments controlling for individual differences. (We will examine different research approaches in Chap. 4 ). If these approaches could be brought together, reasoned Cronbach ( 1957 ), researchers could find interactions between individual characteristics and treatments (aptitude-treatment interactions or ATIs), fitting the best treatments to different individuals.

In 1975, after years of research by many researchers looking for ATIs, Cronbach acknowledged the evidence for simple, useful ATIs had not been found. Even when trying to find interactions between a few variables that could provide instructional guidance, the analysis, said Cronbach, creates “a hall of mirrors that extends to infinity, tormenting even the boldest investigators and defeating even ambitious designs” (Cronbach, 1975 , p. 119).

As he was reflecting back on his work, Cronbach ( 1986 ) recommended moving away from documenting instructional effects through statistical inference (an approach he had championed for much of his career) and toward approaches that probe the reasons for these effects, approaches that provide a “full account of events in a time, place, and context” (Cronbach, 1986 , p. 104). This is a remarkable change in hypotheses, a change based on data and made fully transparent. Cronbach understood the value of failing productively.

Closer to home, in a less dramatic example, one of us began a line of scientific inquiry into how to prepare elementary preservice teachers to teach early algebra. Teaching early algebra meant engaging elementary students in early forms of algebraic reasoning. Such reasoning should help them transition from arithmetic to algebra. To begin this line of inquiry, a set of activities for preservice teachers were developed. Even though the activities were based on well-supported hypotheses, they largely failed to engage preservice teachers as predicted because of unanticipated challenges the preservice teachers faced. To capitalize on this failure, follow-up studies were conducted, first to better understand elementary preservice teachers’ challenges with preparing to teach early algebra, and then to better support preservice teachers in navigating these challenges. In this example, the initial failure was a necessary step in the researchers’ scientific inquiry and furthered the researchers’ understanding of this issue.

We present another example of failing productively in Chap. 2 . That example emerges from recounting the history of a well-known research program in mathematics education.

Making mistakes is an inherent part of doing scientific research. Conducting a study is rarely a smooth path from beginning to end. We recommend that you keep the following things in mind as you begin a career of conducting research in education.

First, do not get discouraged when you make mistakes; do not fall into the trap of feeling like you are not capable of doing research because you make too many errors.

Second, learn from your mistakes. Do not ignore your mistakes or treat them as errors that you simply need to forget and move past. Mistakes are rich sites for learning—in research just as in other fields of study.

Third, by reflecting on your mistakes, you can learn to make better mistakes, mistakes that inform you about a productive next step. You will not be able to eliminate your mistakes, but you can set a goal of making better and better mistakes.

Exercise 1.8

How does scientific inquiry differ from everyday learning in giving you the tools to fail upward? You may find helpful perspectives on this question in other resources on science and scientific inquiry (e.g., Failure: Why Science is So Successful by Firestein, 2015).

Exercise 1.9

Use what you have learned in this chapter to write a new definition of scientific inquiry. Compare this definition with the one you wrote before reading this chapter. If you are reading this book as part of a course, compare your definition with your colleagues’ definitions. Develop a consensus definition with everyone in the course.

Part IV. Preview of Chap. 2

Now that you have a good idea of what research is, at least of what we believe research is, the next step is to think about how to actually begin doing research. This means how to begin formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses. As for all phases of scientific inquiry, there are lots of things to think about. Because it is critical to start well, we devote Chap. 2 to getting started with formulating hypotheses.

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Hiebert, J., Cai, J., Hwang, S., Morris, A.K., Hohensee, C. (2023). What Is Research, and Why Do People Do It?. In: Doing Research: A New Researcher’s Guide. Research in Mathematics Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-19078-0_1

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  • How to Do Research for an Excellent Essay: The Complete Guide

to do research

One of the biggest secrets to writing a good essay is the Boy Scouts’ motto: ‘be prepared’. Preparing for an essay – by conducting effective research – lays the foundations for a brilliant piece of writing, and it’s every bit as important as the actual writing part. Many students skimp on this crucial stage, or sit in the library not really sure where to start; and it shows in the quality of their essays. This just makes it easier for you to get ahead of your peers, and we’re going to show you how. In this article, we take you through what you need to do in order to conduct effective research and use your research time to best effect.

Allow enough time

First and foremost, it’s vital to allow enough time for your research. For this reason, don’t leave your essay until the last minute . If you start writing without having done adequate research, it will almost certainly show in your essay’s lack of quality. The amount of research time needed will vary according to whether you’re at Sixth Form or university, and according to how well you know the topic and what teaching you’ve had on it, but make sure you factor in more time than you think you’ll need. You may come across a concept that takes you longer to understand than you’d expected, so it’s better to allow too much time than too little.

Read the essay question and thoroughly understand it

If you don’t have a thorough understanding of what the essay question is asking you to do, you put yourself at risk of going in the wrong direction with your research. So take the question, read it several times and pull out the key things it’s asking you to do. The instructions in the question are likely to have some bearing on the nature of your research. If the question says “Compare”, for example, this will set you up for a particular kind of research, during which you’ll be looking specifically for points of comparison; if the question asks you to “Discuss”, your research focus may be more on finding different points of view and formulating your own.

Begin with a brainstorm

Start your research time by brainstorming what you already know. Doing this means that you can be clear about exactly what you’re already aware of, and you can identify the gaps in your knowledge so that you don’t end up wasting time by reading books that will tell you what you already know. This gives your research more of a direction and allows you to be more specific in your efforts to find out certain things. It’s also a gentle way of introducing yourself to the task and putting yourself in the right frame of mind for learning about the topic at hand.

Achieve a basic understanding before delving deeper

If the topic is new to you and your brainstorm has yielded few ideas, you’ll need to acquire a basic understanding of the topic before you begin delving deeper into your research. If you don’t, and you start by your research by jumping straight in at the deep end, as it were, you’ll struggle to grasp the topic. This also means that you may end up being too swayed by a certain source, as you haven’t the knowledge to question it properly. You need sufficient background knowledge to be able to take a critical approach to each of the sources you read. So, start from the very beginning. It’s ok to use Wikipedia or other online resources to give you an introduction to a topic, though bear in mind that these can’t be wholly relied upon. If you’ve covered the topic in class already, re-read the notes you made so that you can refresh your mind before you start further investigation.

Working through your reading list

If you’ve been given a reading list to work from, be organised in how you work through each of the items on it. Try to get hold of as many of the books on it as you can before you start, so that you have them all easily to hand, and can refer back to things you’ve read and compare them with other perspectives. Plan the order in which you’re going to work through them and try to allocate a specific amount of time to each of them; this ensures that you allow enough time to do each of them justice and that focus yourself on making the most of your time with each one. It’s a good idea to go for the more general resources before honing in on the finer points mentioned in more specialised literature. Think of an upside-down pyramid and how it starts off wide at the top and becomes gradually narrower; this is the sort of framework you should apply to your research.

Ask a librarian

Library computer databases can be confusing things, and can add an extra layer of stress and complexity to your research if you’re not used to using them. The librarian is there for a reason, so don’t be afraid to go and ask if you’re not sure where to find a particular book on your reading list. If you’re in need of somewhere to start, they should be able to point you in the direction of the relevant section of the library so that you can also browse for books that may yield useful information.

Use the index

If you haven’t been given specific pages to read in the books on your reading list, make use of the index (and/or table of contents) of each book to help you find relevant material. It sounds obvious, but some students don’t think to do this and battle their way through heaps of irrelevant chapters before finding something that will be useful for their essay.

Taking notes

As you work through your reading, take notes as you go along rather than hoping you’ll remember everything you’ve read. Don’t indiscriminately write down everything – only the bits that will be useful in answering the essay question you’ve been set. If you write down too much, you risk writing an essay that’s full of irrelevant material and getting lower grades as a result. Be concise, and summarise arguments in your own words when you make notes (this helps you learn it better, too, because you actually have to think about how best to summarise it). You may want to make use of small index cards to force you to be brief with what you write about each point or topic. We’ve covered effective note-taking extensively in another article, which you can read here . Note-taking is a major part of the research process, so don’t neglect it. Your notes don’t just come in useful in the short-term, for completing your essay, but they should also be helpful when it comes to revision time, so try to keep them organised.

Research every side of the argument

Never rely too heavily on one resource without referring to other possible opinions; it’s bad academic practice. You need to be able to give a balanced argument in an essay, and that means researching a range of perspectives on whatever problem you’re tackling. Keep a note of the different arguments, along with the evidence in support of or against each one, ready to be deployed into an essay structure that works logically through each one. If you see a scholar’s name cropping up again and again in what you read, it’s worth investigating more about them even if you haven’t specifically been told to do so. Context is vital in academia at any level, so influential figures are always worth knowing about.

Keep a dictionary by your side

You could completely misunderstand a point you read if you don’t know what one important word in the sentence means. For that reason, it’s a good idea to keep a dictionary by your side at all times as you conduct your research. Not only does this help you fully understand what you’re reading, but you also learn new words that you might be able to use in your forthcoming essay or a future one . Growing your vocabulary is never a waste of time!

Start formulating your own opinion

As you work through reading these different points of view, think carefully about what you’ve read and note your own response to different opinions. Get into the habit of questioning sources and make sure you’re not just repeating someone else’s opinion without challenging it. Does an opinion make sense? Does it have plenty of evidence to back it up? What are the counter-arguments, and on balance, which sways you more? Demonstrating your own intelligent thinking will set your essay apart from those of your peers, so think about these things as you conduct your research.

Be careful with web-based research

Although, as we’ve said already, it’s fine to use Wikipedia and other online resources to give you a bit of an introduction to a topic you haven’t covered before, be very careful when using the internet for researching an essay. Don’t take Wikipedia as gospel; don’t forget, anybody can edit it! We wouldn’t advise using the internet as the basis of your essay research – it’s simply not academically rigorous enough, and you don’t know how out of date a particular resource might be. Even if your Sixth Form teachers may not question where you picked up an idea you’ve discussed in your essays, it’s still not a good habit to get into and you’re unlikely to get away with it at a good university. That said, there are still reliable academic resources available via the internet; these can be found in dedicated sites that are essentially online libraries, such as JSTOR. These are likely to be a little too advanced if you’re still in Sixth Form, but you’ll almost certainly come across them once you get to university.

Look out for footnotes

In an academic publication, whether that’s a book or a journal article, footnotes are a great place to look for further ideas for publications that might yield useful information. Plenty can be hidden away in footnotes, and if a writer is disparaging or supporting the ideas of another academic, you could look up the text in question so that you can include their opinion too, and whether or not you agree with them, for extra brownie points.

Don’t save doing all your own references until last

If you’re still in Sixth Form, you might not yet be required to include academic references in your essays, but for the sake of a thorough guide to essay research that will be useful to you in the future, we’re going to include this point anyway (it will definitely come in useful when you get to university, so you may as well start thinking about it now!). As you read through various books and find points you think you’re going to want to make in your essays, make sure you note down where you found these points as you go along (author’s first and last name, the publication title, publisher, publication date and page number). When you get to university you will be expected to identify your sources very precisely, so it’s a good habit to get into. Unfortunately, many students forget to do this and then have a difficult time of going back through their essay adding footnotes and trying to remember where they found a particular point. You’ll save yourself a great deal of time and effort if you simply note down your academic references as you go along. If you are including footnotes, don’t forget to add each publication to a main bibliography, to be included at the end of your essay, at the same time.

Putting in the background work required to write a good essay can seem an arduous task at times, but it’s a fundamental step that can’t simply be skipped. The more effort you put in at this stage, the better your essay will be and the easier it will be to write. Use the tips in this article and you’ll be well on your way to an essay that impresses!

To get even more prepared for essay writing you might also want to consider attending an Oxford Summer School .

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to do research

Home Market Research

What is Research: Definition, Methods, Types & Examples

What is Research

The search for knowledge is closely linked to the object of study; that is, to the reconstruction of the facts that will provide an explanation to an observed event and that at first sight can be considered as a problem. It is very human to seek answers and satisfy our curiosity. Let’s talk about research.

Content Index

What is Research?

What are the characteristics of research.

  • Comparative analysis chart

Qualitative methods

Quantitative methods, 8 tips for conducting accurate research.

Research is the careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or research problem using scientific methods. According to the American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie, “research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict, and control the observed phenomenon. It involves inductive and deductive methods.”

Inductive methods analyze an observed event, while deductive methods verify the observed event. Inductive approaches are associated with qualitative research , and deductive methods are more commonly associated with quantitative analysis .

Research is conducted with a purpose to:

  • Identify potential and new customers
  • Understand existing customers
  • Set pragmatic goals
  • Develop productive market strategies
  • Address business challenges
  • Put together a business expansion plan
  • Identify new business opportunities
  • Good research follows a systematic approach to capture accurate data. Researchers need to practice ethics and a code of conduct while making observations or drawing conclusions.
  • The analysis is based on logical reasoning and involves both inductive and deductive methods.
  • Real-time data and knowledge is derived from actual observations in natural settings.
  • There is an in-depth analysis of all data collected so that there are no anomalies associated with it.
  • It creates a path for generating new questions. Existing data helps create more research opportunities.
  • It is analytical and uses all the available data so that there is no ambiguity in inference.
  • Accuracy is one of the most critical aspects of research. The information must be accurate and correct. For example, laboratories provide a controlled environment to collect data. Accuracy is measured in the instruments used, the calibrations of instruments or tools, and the experiment’s final result.

What is the purpose of research?

There are three main purposes:

  • Exploratory: As the name suggests, researchers conduct exploratory studies to explore a group of questions. The answers and analytics may not offer a conclusion to the perceived problem. It is undertaken to handle new problem areas that haven’t been explored before. This exploratory data analysis process lays the foundation for more conclusive data collection and analysis.

LEARN ABOUT: Descriptive Analysis

  • Descriptive: It focuses on expanding knowledge on current issues through a process of data collection. Descriptive research describe the behavior of a sample population. Only one variable is required to conduct the study. The three primary purposes of descriptive studies are describing, explaining, and validating the findings. For example, a study conducted to know if top-level management leaders in the 21st century possess the moral right to receive a considerable sum of money from the company profit.

LEARN ABOUT: Best Data Collection Tools

  • Explanatory: Causal research or explanatory research is conducted to understand the impact of specific changes in existing standard procedures. Running experiments is the most popular form. For example, a study that is conducted to understand the effect of rebranding on customer loyalty.

Here is a comparative analysis chart for a better understanding:

It begins by asking the right questions and choosing an appropriate method to investigate the problem. After collecting answers to your questions, you can analyze the findings or observations to draw reasonable conclusions.

When it comes to customers and market studies, the more thorough your questions, the better the analysis. You get essential insights into brand perception and product needs by thoroughly collecting customer data through surveys and questionnaires . You can use this data to make smart decisions about your marketing strategies to position your business effectively.

To make sense of your study and get insights faster, it helps to use a research repository as a single source of truth in your organization and manage your research data in one centralized data repository .

Types of research methods and Examples

what is research

Research methods are broadly classified as Qualitative and Quantitative .

Both methods have distinctive properties and data collection methods.

Qualitative research is a method that collects data using conversational methods, usually open-ended questions . The responses collected are essentially non-numerical. This method helps a researcher understand what participants think and why they think in a particular way.

Types of qualitative methods include:

  • One-to-one Interview
  • Focus Groups
  • Ethnographic studies
  • Text Analysis

Quantitative methods deal with numbers and measurable forms . It uses a systematic way of investigating events or data. It answers questions to justify relationships with measurable variables to either explain, predict, or control a phenomenon.

Types of quantitative methods include:

  • Survey research
  • Descriptive research
  • Correlational research

LEARN MORE: Descriptive Research vs Correlational Research

Remember, it is only valuable and useful when it is valid, accurate, and reliable. Incorrect results can lead to customer churn and a decrease in sales.

It is essential to ensure that your data is:

  • Valid – founded, logical, rigorous, and impartial.
  • Accurate – free of errors and including required details.
  • Reliable – other people who investigate in the same way can produce similar results.
  • Timely – current and collected within an appropriate time frame.
  • Complete – includes all the data you need to support your business decisions.

Gather insights

What is a research - tips

  • Identify the main trends and issues, opportunities, and problems you observe. Write a sentence describing each one.
  • Keep track of the frequency with which each of the main findings appears.
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How to Do Academic Research

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Academic Research Fundamentals

How to begin finding academic resources, how to use scholarly sources once you have located them, databases of scholarly resources, resources for teaching students how to do academic research.

Few high school students or college underclassmen are prepared to conduct the type of academic research their instructors expect. While many institutions offer library orientation sessions, the information is rarely at hand when students are dealing with midterm or finals panic. Furthermore, those sessions generally focus on finding resources, and often fail to teach students how to use those resources effectively. This guide contains links to resources, exercises, and assignments that will help instructors fill these gaps. It also includes tips and responsible shortcuts for students who don't have access to good library resources, or are panicking because they have a lot of material to sort through and don't know how to begin.

Students often want to know the quickest way to get the minimum number of sources required, and many of them cannot see the connection between a slapped-together bibliography and an unfocused mess of a paper. The resources in this section encourage students to think about what they're doing when they write a paper. These resources can also help students understand why a good bibliography is the foundation of a good paper.

What is Academic Research?

"Overview of Research Process" (Univ. of Nebraska)

This resource discusses how the overarching process of research should guide the writing of a research paper. It also includes separate attachments that provide specific guidance for thinking about research questions and proposals.

"Qualitative Research vs. Quantitative Research" (YouTube)

This video introduces students to two basic approaches to conducting research. Understanding basic methodological approaches will help students evaluate whether a scholarly source is appropriate for their research project.

"The 'Realistic' Research Paper" ( Chronicle of Higher Education )

This article from the  CHE  asks whether the formal academic research paper can be made more relevant while still preserving academic rigor. This could be a very good discussion starter for a class of advanced high schoolers or college underclassmen.

Types of Academic Research Sources

"Types of Sources" (Purdue OWL)

The reliable folks at the Purdue Online Writing Lab provide a basic introduction to the types of academic research sources, with section devoted to both traditional print and online-only resources. 

"Articles, Books, and...? Understanding the Many Types of Information Found in Libraries" (UCLA)

This guide breaks down categories of scholarly sources (they are all listed in the sidebar on the left). It defines terms like "scholarly source" and "secondary source," and its explanation of when  to use certain types of sources is succinct and clear. 

Many students have no idea where to begin looking for books and journal articles. Students, here's a tip I always gave my students when I was a professor: begin by looking at the works cited in your assigned readings. You'll probably notice that certain authors, books, or articles are cited frequently. It's safe for you to assume those are the type of respectable sources that are the foundation of any good bibliography. The links below will help you navigate the process, one step at a time.

First Steps

These resources will aid you in time management, and will introduce you to the best places on the web to start the research process.

"Research Paper Planner: Timeline" (Baylor Univ.)

This tool generates a responsible timeline for the research and writing process based on the current date and assignment due date. It is useful to budget extra time for obtaining books and articles through Interlibrary loan (for more on ILL, see "How to Deal with Hard-to-find Sources"). 

Google Scholar  

Anyone who does not know where to begin should start here. Google Scholar searches across the internet for various kinds of scholarly resources. Use the "cited by" option to narrow down articles. NOTE: Users may not be able to access resources' full text if they are not connected to a library, or college or university network.

"Basic Guide to Google Scholar" (YouTube)

This tutorial demonstrates how to perform basic searches, save search results, and generate MLA, APA, and Chicago-style citations.

"Intermediate Guide to Google Scholar" (YouTube)

This tutorial, led by a STEM Ph.D., goes into more detail about the workings of Google Scholar. 

Google Books

Google Books permits searches of  millions  of books. Even when the full text is not available, users can still find the pages where a particular keyword is mentioned. This can be a valuable shortcut if a user needs to identify the most relevant chapters of a large book quickly.

How to Judge the Quality of a Source

In the age of Fake News and Stupid Algorithm Tricks, being able to evaluate a source's credibility is more important than ever. This section's first two resources help students learn to evaluate the credibility of a variety of sources. Since studies suggest that many students struggle with evaluating non-academic internet sources, the last two resources focus on those sources specifically.

"What is a 'Good' Source? Determining the Validity of Evidence" (Univ. of Maryland)

This webpage gives students tips on evaluating the author and the content of a potential source. NOTE: Be sure to click through all the modules.

"Research 101: Credibility is Contextual" (Univ. of Washington via YouTube)

This brief video (2:56) helps students learn to evaluate web and social media sources. NOTE: All the Research 101 videos are helpful for students who are new to academic research.

"The C.R.A.P. Test in Action" (Portland State Univ. via YouTube)

This video (5:00) shows how to evaluate websites using the Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose or Point of View test. The video gives specific examples of high-quality and low-quality websites.

"Evaluating Internet Content" (Georgetown Univ.)

This resource gives students some very specific questions they can use to evaluate the quality of a source.

How to Deal with Hard-to-find Sources

Sometimes, you cannot access a particular source because it isn't in your library or your library doesn't have the right database subscription. In that case, you can see about an Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Every library system does ILL somewhat differently, so ask for a librarian's assistance when using the system for the first time. 

WorldCat is an immense catalog of books, articles, reports,  and more. To locate a source, copy and paste a title into the search bar. By entering a ZIP code under "Find a copy in a library," users can see if any libraries in the area have access to the scholarly source. 

"Interlibrary Loan" (Wikipedia)

This Wikipedia article provides a general overview of the interlibrary loan process. Many students are not well-informed about how ILLs work. Knowing how the system works is especially important for students at rural colleges or colleges without large budgets.

Even if an instructor can get students to build a substantial and relevant bibliography responsibly, there is still another major hurdle. Students must learn how to read, annotate, and incorporate sources efficiently. Many students operate under the assumption that they must read every prospective source cover-to-cover. This is overwhelming and frustrating, and it's no surprise that students start doing shoddy work under these conditions. The resources in this section expose students to effective shortcuts and organizational tricks to help them make sense of their scholarly sources.

How to Do Effective Reading, Annotation, and Note-taking

"How to (Seriously) Read a Scientific Paper" ( Science Magazine )

Science  asked leading scholars to describe the shortcuts they take when reading journal articles. The lesson here is that using shortcuts is absolutely OK. In fact, researchers who use the  right  shortcuts often build the most effective bibliographies.

"Tips for Reading Scholarly and Journal Articles" (Brandeis Univ.)

The general tips on the first page are helpful, but the most valuable part is the chart on the second page. It explains how to read an article depending on whether it was assigned in class or whether you want to test its suitability for your research paper.

"Student Worksheet: Analyzing a Journal Article" (Univ. of Guelph)

This template will help students break down any article that has a specific, testable hypothesis. 

"Reading in the Humanities and Social Sciences" (Trent Univ.)

This reading guide is tailored specifically for the humanities and other fields where scholars write both books and articles. Be sure to click on the reading template link on page three.

How to Integrate Scholarly Sources Into an Essay or Research Paper

"Incorporating Sources into Research Writing" (Germanna C.C.)

Pages five through nine of this guide provide clear, detailed instructions for using scholarly sources in an academic paper. There are also two examples provided. 

"Integrating Sources into Your Writing" (James Madison Univ. via YouTube)

This guide to integrating sources includes numerous examples and illustrations. In addition to discussing incorporating sources, it touches on evaluating the credibility of sources.

"Paraphrasing Exercise" (Purdue OWL)

Instructors can use this exercise to help students practice the sometimes tricky technique of incorporating sources via paraphrase.

"Incorporating Sources Exercises" (Wilmington Univ.)

This webpage links to nearly 20 resources for students who are struggling with quotation, paraphrase, summary, or similar techniques. 

How to Avoid Academic Integrity Issues

Everyone knows copying and pasting from the Internet or directly lifting material from a book constitutes cheating. But what makes a good paraphrase? What is "common knowledge," and what needs to be cited? Can you plagiarize yourself? These are all legitimate, good-faith questions students might have about using scholarly sources. These online resources can help address those challenging gray areas.

"Incorporating Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism" (UC Irvine)

This detailed, example-rich presentation (helpfully written from a STEM perspective) dispels some common myths about what does and doesn't count as plagiarism.

"How Students Commit Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism" (Northern Illinois Univ.)

This webpage contains links to lots of plagiarism examples. These examples are useful because they illustrate the difference between things like good and bad paraphrasing.

"Paraphrasing" (Univ. of Guelph)

Paraphrasing is a difficult skill and honest, well-meaning students sometimes commit academic dishonesty unintentionally by not paraphrasing correctly. This presentation discusses the elements of a good paraphrase and provides examples.

"Citation Builder" (NC State)

This webpage generates citations in MLA, APA, and Chicago format.

Here are the citation guides for the three major academic writing formats:

  • APA Citation Guide (BibMe.org)
  • Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide
  • MLA Citation Guide (EasyBib.com)

Included here are links to resource collections that are free of charge to any user, or that students can access through their  public or academic libraries. Remember, if you can't get access to a particular scholarly source because your public library or educational institution doesn't have access, be sure to investigate the Interlibrary Loan option mentioned earlier in this guide.

Freely Accessible Resources

The academic world becomes more accepting of open-source journals with every passing year. JURN is a database of scholarly articles from over 3,000 journals in a variety of disciplines.

Library of Congress eResources

The Library of Congress provides access to a staggering number of databases across all academic disciplines. Not all the resources are free, but many are.

Library of Congress Map Collections

Maps are valuable resources for students, professional scholars, independent scholars, and interested amateurs. The Library of Congress has access to multiple collections of current and historical maps.

U.S. National Library of Medicine

This service is provided by the National Institutes of Health. The NLM includes PubMed, an important collection of journal articles and abstracts. Many resources at the NLM are free, but not all of them are. 

Resources Available at Public Libraries

Some public library systems may have no access or limited access to these resources. Please consult your local library system's website.

EBSCO allows users to search a wide variety of databases. The version of EBSCO available at most public libraries includes access to newspaper and genealogy  databases. Users who connect through a university library will access Academic Search Premier, EBSCO's scholarly database collection.

Learning Express Hub College Prep Center

This database has resources to help students prepare for Advanced Placement, the SAT, the ACT, and a variety of other exams.

LexisNexis Public Library Express

LexisNexis created this service to meet the needs of public library systems. Patrons can use this resource to search current events, business news, and legal news.

ProQuest Libraries

ProQuest's list of databases for public libraries includes searchable news databases, genealogy databases, and medical health databases.

Resources Available at Most College or University Libraries

Some colleges or universities may not have all these databases, or they may have limited access. If you need a source that your library doesn't have access to, use ILL (see "How to Deal with Hard-to-find Sources").

JSTOR is a leading database of academic journals from a wide variety of disciplines.

LexisNexis is one of the leading databases for legal and business research. 

Project MUSE

Project MUSE is a database with strong offerings in the humanities and social sciences.

ProQuest Academic

This is another database collection that contains links to journals from a variety of disciplines.

PsycINFO is hosted by the American Psychological Association. It is an important database for psychologists and other social scientists.

SAGE Journals

SAGE is a leading academic publisher. Its journals are sorted by four categories: Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, Life and Biomedical Sciences, and Materials Science and Engineering.

The idea of doing "research" is daunting for many students. A good way to make students more comfortable with the process is to break the giant concept of "research" into smaller pieces. These resources help teachers break down the research process effectively. "Resources for High School Teachers" help instructors understand the context and challenges of teaching their students about research, and provide sample assignments and exercises. "Resources for College Instructors" are focused more narrowly on teaching undergraduate students about formal academic papers. 

Resources for High School Teachers

"How Teens do Research in the Internet World" (Pew Research Institute)

This 2012 Pew study summarizes the challenges high school teachers face when it comes to teaching students about responsible online research. The study's findings serve as a jumping off point for teachers to discuss effective strategies and probable obstacles and constraints.

"The 6 Online Research Skills Your Students Need" (Scholastic)

This article suggests classroom activities appropriate for freshmen and sophomores.

Questia School: "Teacher Guide for Research Tutorials" (Cengage)

This lengthy, free guide from a leading educational publisher provides teachers with nearly 100 pages of tutorials and exercises that introduce every element of brainstorming and writing a research paper. 

"Research Paper Complete Resource Pack" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

This resource pack (designed primarily for MLA or APA style) contains worksheets and exercises to help students learn annotating, editing, integrating sources, and more. 

Resources for College Instructors

"Creating Successful Research Skills Assignments" (Univ. of Pennsylvania)

This guide contains suggested assignments that help students become more comfortable with various aspects of the research process.

"Teaching Students to Write Good Papers" (Yale)

This resource discusses general strategies for teaching students to write well. Most importantly, it contains links to numerous worksheets and handouts that are useful for struggling students.

"Effective Assignment Sequencing for Scaffolding Learning" (Univ. of Michigan)

Many instructors are proponents of the scaffolding approach to research papers. This approach requires students to focus more carefully on the intermediate steps in the process, and is also effective against plagiarism. This guide from Michigan's Writing Center provides detailed instructions and suggestions for creating a scaffolded assignment.

"Keys to Designing Effective Writing and Research Assignments" (FacultyFocus)

This collection of short papers asks provocative questions and offers suggestions for new ways of looking at research paper assignments.

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Meaning of research in English

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  • He has dedicated his life to scientific research.
  • He emphasized that all the people taking part in the research were volunteers .
  • The state of Michigan has endowed three institutes to do research for industry .
  • I'd like to see the research that these recommendations are founded on.
  • It took months of painstaking research to write the book .
  • absorptive capacity
  • dream something up
  • ergonomically
  • modularization
  • nanotechnology
  • non-imitative
  • operational research
  • think outside the box idiom
  • think something up
  • uninventive
  • whole cloth
  • study What do you plan on studying at university?
  • major US She majored in philosophy at Harvard.
  • cram She's cramming for her history exam.
  • revise UK I'm revising for tomorrow's test.
  • review US We're going to review for the test tomorrow night.
  • research Scientists are researching possible new treatments for cancer.
  • The amount of time and money being spent on researching this disease is pitiful .
  • We are researching the reproduction of elephants .
  • She researched a wide variety of jobs before deciding on law .
  • He researches heart disease .
  • The internet has reduced the amount of time it takes to research these subjects .
  • adjudication
  • interpretable
  • interpretive
  • interpretively
  • investigate
  • reinterpretation
  • reinvestigate
  • reinvestigation
  • risk assessment
  • run over/through something

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

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Research | american dictionary, research | business english, examples of research, collocations with research.

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a large increase in the number of babies born among a particular group of people during a particular time

Blazing trails and plumbing the depths (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)

Blazing trails and plumbing the depths (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 113 great research paper topics.

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General Education

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One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily find the best topic for you.

In addition to the list of good research topics, we've included advice on what makes a good research paper topic and how you can use your topic to start writing a great paper.

What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic?

Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics.

#1: It's Something You're Interested In

A paper is always easier to write if you're interested in the topic, and you'll be more motivated to do in-depth research and write a paper that really covers the entire subject. Even if a certain research paper topic is getting a lot of buzz right now or other people seem interested in writing about it, don't feel tempted to make it your topic unless you genuinely have some sort of interest in it as well.

#2: There's Enough Information to Write a Paper

Even if you come up with the absolute best research paper topic and you're so excited to write about it, you won't be able to produce a good paper if there isn't enough research about the topic. This can happen for very specific or specialized topics, as well as topics that are too new to have enough research done on them at the moment. Easy research paper topics will always be topics with enough information to write a full-length paper.

Trying to write a research paper on a topic that doesn't have much research on it is incredibly hard, so before you decide on a topic, do a bit of preliminary searching and make sure you'll have all the information you need to write your paper.

#3: It Fits Your Teacher's Guidelines

Don't get so carried away looking at lists of research paper topics that you forget any requirements or restrictions your teacher may have put on research topic ideas. If you're writing a research paper on a health-related topic, deciding to write about the impact of rap on the music scene probably won't be allowed, but there may be some sort of leeway. For example, if you're really interested in current events but your teacher wants you to write a research paper on a history topic, you may be able to choose a topic that fits both categories, like exploring the relationship between the US and North Korea. No matter what, always get your research paper topic approved by your teacher first before you begin writing.

113 Good Research Paper Topics

Below are 113 good research topics to help you get you started on your paper. We've organized them into ten categories to make it easier to find the type of research paper topics you're looking for.

Arts/Culture

  • Discuss the main differences in art from the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance .
  • Analyze the impact a famous artist had on the world.
  • How is sexism portrayed in different types of media (music, film, video games, etc.)? Has the amount/type of sexism changed over the years?
  • How has the music of slaves brought over from Africa shaped modern American music?
  • How has rap music evolved in the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of minorities in the media changed?

music-277279_640

Current Events

  • What have been the impacts of China's one child policy?
  • How have the goals of feminists changed over the decades?
  • How has the Trump presidency changed international relations?
  • Analyze the history of the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
  • What factors contributed to the current decline in the rate of unemployment?
  • What have been the impacts of states which have increased their minimum wage?
  • How do US immigration laws compare to immigration laws of other countries?
  • How have the US's immigration laws changed in the past few years/decades?
  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement affected discussions and view about racism in the US?
  • What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on healthcare in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the UK deciding to leave the EU (Brexit)?
  • What factors contributed to China becoming an economic power?
  • Discuss the history of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies  (some of which tokenize the S&P 500 Index on the blockchain) .
  • Do students in schools that eliminate grades do better in college and their careers?
  • Do students from wealthier backgrounds score higher on standardized tests?
  • Do students who receive free meals at school get higher grades compared to when they weren't receiving a free meal?
  • Do students who attend charter schools score higher on standardized tests than students in public schools?
  • Do students learn better in same-sex classrooms?
  • How does giving each student access to an iPad or laptop affect their studies?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Montessori Method ?
  • Do children who attend preschool do better in school later on?
  • What was the impact of the No Child Left Behind act?
  • How does the US education system compare to education systems in other countries?
  • What impact does mandatory physical education classes have on students' health?
  • Which methods are most effective at reducing bullying in schools?
  • Do homeschoolers who attend college do as well as students who attended traditional schools?
  • Does offering tenure increase or decrease quality of teaching?
  • How does college debt affect future life choices of students?
  • Should graduate students be able to form unions?

body_highschoolsc

  • What are different ways to lower gun-related deaths in the US?
  • How and why have divorce rates changed over time?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in education and/or the workplace?
  • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
  • How has stem cell research impacted the medical field?
  • How can human trafficking be reduced in the United States/world?
  • Should people be able to donate organs in exchange for money?
  • Which types of juvenile punishment have proven most effective at preventing future crimes?
  • Has the increase in US airport security made passengers safer?
  • Analyze the immigration policies of certain countries and how they are similar and different from one another.
  • Several states have legalized recreational marijuana. What positive and negative impacts have they experienced as a result?
  • Do tariffs increase the number of domestic jobs?
  • Which prison reforms have proven most effective?
  • Should governments be able to censor certain information on the internet?
  • Which methods/programs have been most effective at reducing teen pregnancy?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto diet?
  • How effective are different exercise regimes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss?
  • How do the healthcare plans of various countries differ from each other?
  • What are the most effective ways to treat depression ?
  • What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
  • Which methods are most effective for improving memory?
  • What can be done to lower healthcare costs in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the current opioid crisis?
  • Analyze the history and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic .
  • Are low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • How much exercise should the average adult be getting each week?
  • Which methods are most effective to get parents to vaccinate their children?
  • What are the pros and cons of clean needle programs?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • Discuss the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • What were the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Who was responsible for the Iran-Contra situation?
  • How has New Orleans and the government's response to natural disasters changed since Hurricane Katrina?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of British rule in India ?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?
  • What were the successes and failures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States?
  • What were the causes of the Civil War?
  • How did Abraham Lincoln's assassination impact the country and reconstruction after the Civil War?
  • Which factors contributed to the colonies winning the American Revolution?
  • What caused Hitler's rise to power?
  • Discuss how a specific invention impacted history.
  • What led to Cleopatra's fall as ruler of Egypt?
  • How has Japan changed and evolved over the centuries?
  • What were the causes of the Rwandan genocide ?

main_lincoln

  • Why did Martin Luther decide to split with the Catholic Church?
  • Analyze the history and impact of a well-known cult (Jonestown, Manson family, etc.)
  • How did the sexual abuse scandal impact how people view the Catholic Church?
  • How has the Catholic church's power changed over the past decades/centuries?
  • What are the causes behind the rise in atheism/ agnosticism in the United States?
  • What were the influences in Siddhartha's life resulted in him becoming the Buddha?
  • How has media portrayal of Islam/Muslims changed since September 11th?

Science/Environment

  • How has the earth's climate changed in the past few decades?
  • How has the use and elimination of DDT affected bird populations in the US?
  • Analyze how the number and severity of natural disasters have increased in the past few decades.
  • Analyze deforestation rates in a certain area or globally over a period of time.
  • How have past oil spills changed regulations and cleanup methods?
  • How has the Flint water crisis changed water regulation safety?
  • What are the pros and cons of fracking?
  • What impact has the Paris Climate Agreement had so far?
  • What have NASA's biggest successes and failures been?
  • How can we improve access to clean water around the world?
  • Does ecotourism actually have a positive impact on the environment?
  • Should the US rely on nuclear energy more?
  • What can be done to save amphibian species currently at risk of extinction?
  • What impact has climate change had on coral reefs?
  • How are black holes created?
  • Are teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression?
  • How will the loss of net neutrality affect internet users?
  • Analyze the history and progress of self-driving vehicles.
  • How has the use of drones changed surveillance and warfare methods?
  • Has social media made people more or less connected?
  • What progress has currently been made with artificial intelligence ?
  • Do smartphones increase or decrease workplace productivity?
  • What are the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom?
  • How is Google search affecting our intelligence?
  • When is the best age for a child to begin owning a smartphone?
  • Has frequent texting reduced teen literacy rates?

body_iphone2

How to Write a Great Research Paper

Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers.

#1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early

Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis will be. Your thesis is a statement that explains what you intend to prove/show in your paper. Every sentence in your research paper will relate back to your thesis, so you don't want to start writing without it!

As some examples, if you're writing a research paper on if students learn better in same-sex classrooms, your thesis might be "Research has shown that elementary-age students in same-sex classrooms score higher on standardized tests and report feeling more comfortable in the classroom."

If you're writing a paper on the causes of the Civil War, your thesis might be "While the dispute between the North and South over slavery is the most well-known cause of the Civil War, other key causes include differences in the economies of the North and South, states' rights, and territorial expansion."

#2: Back Every Statement Up With Research

Remember, this is a research paper you're writing, so you'll need to use lots of research to make your points. Every statement you give must be backed up with research, properly cited the way your teacher requested. You're allowed to include opinions of your own, but they must also be supported by the research you give.

#3: Do Your Research Before You Begin Writing

You don't want to start writing your research paper and then learn that there isn't enough research to back up the points you're making, or, even worse, that the research contradicts the points you're trying to make!

Get most of your research on your good research topics done before you begin writing. Then use the research you've collected to create a rough outline of what your paper will cover and the key points you're going to make. This will help keep your paper clear and organized, and it'll ensure you have enough research to produce a strong paper.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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Rethinking Health Professionals’ Motivation to Do Research: A Systematic Review

Louisa m d’arrietta.

1 College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

2 Library Services, Townsville University Hospital, Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Venkat N Vangaveti

Melissa j crowe.

3 Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia

Bunmi S Malau-Aduli

Health professionals’ engagement in translational health and medical research (HMR) is fundamental to evidence-based practice leading to better patient health outcomes. However, there is a decline in the number of health professionals undertaking research which has implications for patient health and the economy. Informed by the motivation-based expectancy-value-cost (EVC) and self determination theories (SDT), this systematic literature review examined the barriers and facilitators of health professionals’ (HPs) motivation to undertake research.

The literature was searched between 2011 and 2021 for relevant peer-reviewed articles written in English, using CINAHL Complete, Informit, Medline Ovid, Medline (PubMed), Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar databases. This systematic review was performed and reported in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines.

Identified barriers to HPs’ engagement with research included the lack of knowledge, skills, and competence to conduct research, lack of protected research time, lack of funding and lack of organisational support. Integration of the findings of this review based on the EVC and SDT theories indicate that research capacity, ie, expectancy and competence is highly influenced by attitude, ie, the type of value (attainment, intrinsic or utility) and connection attributed to research. HPs who had very positive attitude towards research demonstrated all three values and were keen to take up research despite the barriers. Those who had a positive attitude were only motivated to do research because of its utility value and did not necessarily see it as having personal relevance for themselves. HPs who were unmotivated did not see any personal connection or relatedness to the research experience and saw no value in research.

The attitude HPs hold in their value of research is a catalyst for motivation or amotivation to engage in research as it directly influences the relevance of barriers. Facilitators that expedite the research journey have been attributed to research training, mentorship programs and supportive organisational research culture. Motivation of HPs explored through EVC and SDT is critical to the maintenance of a research culture and the clinician-researcher development pipeline.

Introduction

Health professionals (HPs), including doctors, nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals (AHPs) who undertake research have been referred to in the literature under various titles including, clinician researcher 1 clinician investigator 2 and physician-researcher. 3 This group of HPs spend time as both active clinicians and researchers and they engage in translational health and medical research (HMR) to address the issues they see in clinical practice. 4 HP led research is important because it fosters evidence-based clinical practice and improved health outcomes for patients. 5 For example, research on chronic diseases has significantly contributed to better health outcomes and improved quality of life for people across Australia and globally. 6 In addition to the patient health benefits, employment of those engaged in HMR has resulted in continued productivity due to better health outcomes and financial benefits from new medicines and technology. HMR has helped Australia become a leading economy of the 21st century returning an increasing net benefit of $8.2 billion, returning $3.90 for every dollar invested 6 and from 2000 to 2015, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)-funded research saved the Australian health system $23.4 billion. 6 Despite the benefits of research to the economy and health benefits to patients there still exists a dearth of HP researchers.

There has been an ongoing global concern that the number of HPs undertaking research is declining. 7 The seminal paper by Wyngaarden, 8 “The clinical investigator as an endangered species” addressed this concern over 40 years ago. 9 , 10 Recent international trends from the USA, 7 , 11 , 12 Canada, 13 UK, 14 Sweden, 15 Africa, 16 Singapore, 17 Pakistan 18 and Saudi Arabia 19 still indicate a decline in the number of young researchers replacing an aging workforce. For example, in the US, the fraction of physician-researchers has reduced from 4.7% in the 1980s to approximately 1.5% currently. 20 In New Zealand (NZ) and Australia there exists a similar scenario, with the number of individuals training in medical research decreasing or stagnating over the past few decades. 21–23 The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported a decline in the proportion of employed Australian doctors who identified primarily as researchers from 2.1% in 2002 to 1.5% in 2010. 24 , 25 The 2018 Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand (MDANZ) report indicated a further 3.9% drop in the number of physician-researchers between 2013 and 2017. 26 Comparatively, of the 1346 registered doctors who self-reported as physician-researchers in 2017, 59% were males and 39% were 55 years and above. 26

Decline in the number of HP researchers has largely been attributed to significant factors including lack of dedicated research time, research expertise, awareness and skills. 10 , 27 Additionally, there has been lack of effective succession planning. 12 Furthermore, younger generations of HP graduates, particularly females, are wanting more work-life balance; and this generates situations where undertaking research competes with other goals, values and career pathways. 3 , 7 , 28 Reduced accessibility to research positions, particularly in rural areas has also been highlighted as a major challenge. 29 Building the capacity of HPs to undertake research is considered to be an international priority in view of the increasing predominance of chronic diseases and aging world populations. 30 Health organisations with strong research culture have been associated with greater service efficiencies and reduced patient mortality and morbidity, indicating that involvement in research extends beyond individual HPs’ professional development. 31

Motivation to undertake or stay in HMR is a key factor in addressing the shortage of HP researchers currently being experienced. 32 Motivation has largely been attributed to the opportunities and barriers HPs have experienced or expect to experience in their research journey. 32 However, the number of HPs engaging in research has still not improved. Applying a theoretically informed approach to examining existing literature findings can point the way to more effective strategies to motivate HPs to do research. The Expectancy-Value-Cost (EVC) motivation theory postulates that achievement-related choices are motivated by a combination of people’s expectations for success and subjective task value in particular domains. 33 , 34 For example, individuals are more likely to pursue an activity if they expect to do well and value the activity. The model further differentiates task value into three components: attainment value (ie, importance of doing well), intrinsic value (ie, personal enjoyment) and utility value (ie, perceived usefulness for future goals). However, motivation can be limited by potential barriers which are referred to as cost (ie, competition with other goals). According to the EVC model, expectations for success and task value are shaped by a combination of factors. These include individual characteristics (abilities, previous experiences, goals, self-concepts, beliefs, expectations, interpretations) and environmental influences (cultural milieu, socializers’ beliefs, and behaviours). 35

A recurrent theme in the literature is that motivation to undertake research has largely been extrinsic, that is, to improve CVs, 36 career progression 37 or for academic improvement. This indicates a need for further exploration into the underlying concepts of motivational theory and its relevance to research uptake and retention by HPs. It is not surprising, therefore, that motivation is increasingly becoming a major area of interest within the field of HPs’ education 38 and health research orientation, 39 with a focus on Self-Determination Theory (SDT) 40 , 41 which has special implications for HMR. Evolving from research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, SDT is a macro theory of human motivation that has been successfully applied to healthcare education and HMR. 42 , 43 The focus of SDT is not on how motivation can be controlled from without, but instead on how motivation is functionally designed and experienced from within. 41 SDT relates to three basic psychological needs: (1) Competence : People need to gain mastery of tasks and learn different skills. When people feel that they have the skills needed for success, they are more likely to take actions that will help them achieve their goals. (2) Connection or Relatedness : People need to experience a sense of belonging and attachment to other people. (3) Autonomy : People need to feel in control of their own behaviours and goals. This sense of being able to take direct action that will result in real change plays a major part in helping people feel self-determined. 44

Rethinking HPs’ motivation to engage in research, now has immediate and wider implications for all HPs whether medical, nursing and midwifery or allied health. 6 The decline in number of HP researchers comes at a critical time when medical innovations are urgently needed to combat the current global COVID-19 pandemic, other communicable diseases and the aging population crisis. 2 , 18 The threat to individual and societal health and economic welfare requires a holistic approach to HP engagement with research and research training to ensure long-term outcomes for survival of world populations. 2 Research can no longer be restricted to an elite and specialized few, it needs to be appreciated as a fundamental activity for most, if not all HPs. To foster HP engagement with research, it is important to gain deep insight and understanding of what motivates or discourages them from taking up or continuing with research along the career pipeline. Hence this systematic review utilised two theoretical frameworks (EVC 33 , 34 and SDT 40 , 41 ) to (1) examine the facilitators and barriers to health professionals’ motivation to undertake research and (2) identify current research gaps.

The systematic review was conducted and reported in accordance with the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) Statement.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

For the purpose of this review, the term HP researcher is defined as a medical graduate, nurse, midwife or AHP who works both clinically and in research – often varying the fractions throughout their career. The study population consisted of all HPs: AHPs, Medical, Nursing and Midwifery in hospital/research centres. Peer-reviewed articles written in English were considered if they related to HPs’ motivation, attitudes, and perceptions about undertaking research. There was no restriction on study design. Articles were excluded if they did not meet the inclusion criteria and/or they were review papers.

Search Strategy

Seven electronic databases comprising, CINAHL Complete, Informit, Medline Ovid, Medline (PubMed), Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar were searched. Peer reviewed primary articles, written in English and published between 2011 and 2021 (a decade of literature) were included in this review to reflect the current level of activity in the topic area.

Search terms used were research, health professionals (including physicians, AHPs, nurses, midwives), research, and motivation. The terms research capacity, attitudes and barriers were purposefully excluded as they would have limited a full exploration of the topic. The comprehensive search strategy used for this review is presented in Appendix 1 . Reference lists from previous reviews and included studies were also screened for additional relevant articles.

Study Selection

All the identified articles were imported into Endnote X9 software (Clarivate, Australia), then titles and abstracts were screened. Two authors (LMDA and BSMA) independently screened the titles and abstracts of the retrieved articles and excluded those that did not meet the inclusion criteria. Subsequently, full-text articles categorised as potentially eligible for inclusion were screened and disagreements were resolved in a consensus meeting.

Data Synthesis and Analysis

Meta-analysis was not possible, due to the heterogeneous nature of the included articles. A data extraction form was developed and used to collect relevant information from all the included studies. Descriptive data including author, study year, title, country of study, research/study focus, setting – urban/rural/remote, study design, type of participants, participant numbers, gender and mean age were extracted from each of the selected studies. Elements of the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) 43 and the Expectancy-Value-Cost Model of Motivation (EVC) 46 were adopted to facilitate extraction of the key determinant factors to research motivation. The identified barriers and facilitators of HPs’ motivation to undertake research, as reported in each reviewed article were independently extracted and categorised by two authors (LMDA and BSMA). Conceptual content analysis 47 , 48 was used to extract and systematically code the factors as determined by the tenets of the EVC and SDT frameworks. Rules for translation of text into codes were developed by the researchers. Coding of pre-defined concepts/sets of categories was done manually and analysis of results involved quantification of coded concepts for frequency of occurrence and determination of relationships, trends and patterns. 48

Three major factors were considered namely: Research Capacity which relates to expectancy and competence; Attitude which relates to value and connection; and Barriers which relate to cost and autonomy. Research capacity was coded based on explicit/implicit statements within each reviewed article about participants’ perceived levels of confidence/ competence to participate in research. Participants’ attitude to research was underpinned by the type of value they attributed to research – attainment, intrinsic and/or utility value, as well as the connection or relatedness they expressed towards research. Participants’ attitude to research was categorised into three groups based on the frequency with which values and connections held by the study participants were openly stated or inferred. Attitude to research was coded as “very positive” if all three value types were established in a study, “positive” if only one and “negative/fear of research” if no value or connection to research was indicated. For autonomy/ cost, reported barriers in all studies were listed and grouped into categories, number of categorised barriers in each study were then quantified. LMDA and BSMA independently extracted and categorised all factors and subsequently met to check for consistency. All discrepancies were resolved through discussion.

For the purpose of this review, research capacity is defined as the ability to engage in, perform or carry out quality research. 49 The expectancy and competence of individuals to carry out research activities underpins research capacity and was viewed through the EVC (expectancy) and SDT (competence) frameworks. While it is postulated that there are two types of expectancies: ability beliefs that comprise of current/immediate beliefs about being able to complete a task and expectancy beliefs that reflect being able to do the task in the future, most investigations collapse measures of ability and expectancy beliefs into a general expectancy scale. 46

Attitude to undertaking research was viewed through the EVC (value) and SDT (connection) frameworks. Value is differentiated into three components: value of attainment is espoused in meeting a personal need; intrinsic value is gained through personal enjoyment or satisfaction and utility value is perceived usefulness for future goals and may be predictive of current and future interest. 46 Connection or relatedness is where people need to experience a sense of belonging and attachment to other people. 44

Barriers to undertaking research was also viewed through the EVC (Cost) and SDT (autonomy) frameworks where the perceived cost of undertaking research competes with other goals, 44 and autonomy is seen as the need to feel in control of one’s own behaviours and goals without undue external influences. 44 Cost and autonomy are largely seen as influences external to the individual although they may be encountered at the individual, organisational and/or system level. 43 , 46

Quality Assessment of Reviewed Articles

The Quality Assessment Tool for Studies with Diverse Designs (QATSDD) was used to assess the methodological consistency and quality of the included studies. 50 This tool contains 16 items and is used for examining studies with different research designs. Each of the included studies was graded on a scale of 0 to 3 for each criterion, with 0 = not at all, 1 = very slightly, 2 = moderately and 3 = complete. To assess the methodological quality of each of the included studies, the criteria scores were summed and expressed as a percentage of the maximum possible score. The percentage scores were classified into low (<50%), medium (50–80%) or high (>80%) quality evidence for easy identification. The QATSDD criteria included: (1) theoretical framework; (2) aims/objectives; (3) description of research setting; (4) sample size; (5) representative sample of target group; (6) procedure for data collection; (7) rationale for choice of data collection tool(s); (8) detailed recruitment data; (9) assessment of reliability and validity of measurement tool(s) (Quantitative only); (10) fit between research question and method of data collection (Quantitative only); (11) fit between research question and data collection method (Qualitative only); (12) fit between research question and method of analysis; (13) good justification for analytical method selected; (14) reliability of analytical process (Qualitative only); (15) evidence of user involvement in design; (16) strengths and limitations. 50

Included Studies

Four thousand and twenty four (4024) articles were identified from all searched databases. Ten (10) additional articles were identified through hand searching. After screening the titles and abstracts of the identified articles and reviewing 228 full texts, 46 met the inclusion criteria for this review as shown in Figure 1 .

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is JMDH-15-185-g0001.jpg

Flow chart of the study selection protocol. PRISMA figure adapted from Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG, The PRISMA Group (2009). Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement. PLoS Med. 6(7):e1000097. Creative Commons 45 .

Assessment of Methodological Quality

Table 1 portrays the QATSDD assessment with scores ranging from 33% to 90%. The aims and objectives, description of the research setting as well as the fit between research question and data collection method were well addressed in most studies. Strengths and limitations of the studies were also generally well addressed by most studies. Nonetheless, good justification for analytical method selected was overlooked in 14 studies and only 19 (41.3%) studies had evidence of user involvement in the design. Overall, 10 studies (22%) were rated as high quality because they were judged to be explicit in their methodology and mostly utilised theoretical frameworks. Thirty-five (76%) were medium quality studies and some of the weaknesses identified from these studies included: lack of theoretical framework, inadequate sample sizes and poor reliability. One study 51 met only few quality criteria, had low rating (33%) and therefore was removed from the review.

Quality Assessment of the Included Studies

Notes : The QATSDD criteria included: (1) theoretical framework; (2) aims/objectives; (3) description of research setting; (4) sample size; (5) representative sample of target group; (6) procedure for data collection; (7) rationale for choice of data collection tool(s); (8) detailed recruitment data; (9) assessment of reliability and validity of measurement tool(s) (quantitative only); (10) fit between research question and method of data collection (quantitative only); (11) fit between research question and data collection method (qualitative only); (12) fit between research question and method of analysis; (13) good justification for analytical method selected; (14) reliability of analytical process (qualitative only); (15) evidence of user involvement in design; (16) strengths and limitations.

Study Characteristics

A summary of the characteristics of the included 45 studies is presented in Table 2 . The total number of participants was 11,438 and participant numbers per study ranged from 15 to 2052. Of the 33 studies that included both genders, 5620 (62.2%) of the 9039 participants were females. Only 19 studies indicated participants’ mean age which ranged from 34.5 ± 9.5 to 50 ± 7.7 years.

Study Characteristics and Participant Demographics for Reviewed Articles

Note : **Values/categories not specified.

Sixteen (16) of the studies were conducted in Australia, 3 , 52–66 eight from USA, 32 , 67–73 six from UK, 74–79 four from the Middle East, 69 , 80–82 four from Europe, 83–86 three from Africa, 16 , 87 , 88 two from South East Asia, 89 , 90 one from Japan and South Korea 91 and one each from Canada 92 and New Zealand 93 Study settings included 13 urban, 53 , 58 , 64–67 , 73 , 79–82 , 90 , 91 six regional 52 , 55 , 61–63 , 84 and five urban and rural settings. 54 , 69 , 76 , 85 , 86 Two studies were conducted in all three settings (urban, rural and remote) 56 , 59 while one was located in rural and remote settings. 78 The setting type was not specified in 18 studies. The study designs were varied with 29 quantitative, 10 qualitative and six mixed methods studies.

Five studies focused on all HPs 56 , 59 , 65 , 66 , 92 as a heterogeneous group, two on AHPs and nurses 58 , 79 and one on nurses and physicians. 88 Overall, 18 studies concentrated on AHPs with 7 of those studies considering them as a homogenous group, 52 , 55 , 60–64 five studies were solely on pharmacists, 76 , 78 , 80–82 four on physiotherapists 75 , 85 , 86 , 93 and one each on psychologists 53 and speech language pathologists. 54 Ten studies focused on nurses 57 , 67 , 68 , 71 , 72 , 74 , 77 , 83 , 84 , 90 and nine on physicians. 3 , 16 , 32 , 69 , 70 , 73 , 87 , 89 , 91

While HPs’ motivation to do research was investigated by all 45 reviewed studies, only eight studies utilised a theoretical framework or model in their investigation. These included Self-Determination Theory (SDT), 86 Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCCT) and Professional Identity Formation as an integrated framework, 69 COM-B framework, 75 Vroom’s Expectancy Theory, 71 Research-Active Nurse Model, 72 Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF), 78 Social Cognitive Theory, 82 combination of TDF and COM-B. 63

Factors Influencing Motivation

In relation to factors influencing motivation, all the studies in this review were appraised utilising the EVC and SDT frameworks. A summary of the findings is presented in Table 3 .

Theoretical Framework Summary of Study Outcomes

HPs’ Research Capacity

Research capacity was investigated in the studies in terms of competence/confidence and expectancy to do research. As shown in Table 3 , over half 25 (56%) of the reviewed studies identified their participants as competent to undertake research, while the participants in the remaining 20 (44%) studies were identified as lacking confidence and requiring support to undertake research.

Of the 25 studies where participants were identified as competent, seven focused on physicians (medical doctors)., 3 , 32 , 69 , 70 , 73 , 89 , 91 another seven on AHPs, 52 , 55 , 60–64 four of which targeted pharmacists. 78 , 80–82 Five studies focused on nurses, four on all HP groups and one each on nurse-physician group and nurse-AHP group. Most participants who felt competent perceived that they had the required abilities, skills, and knowledge to participate in research. For example, participants in one study reported high competence levels ranging from 3.14 to 4.06 on a 5-point rating scale. 90 About 60–90% of participants who were identified as competent reported having prior research experience, with 66–75% confirming that they had formal training during their undergraduate education. 3 , 58 , 65 , 66 , 70 , 75 , 80 , 82 , 88 , 90 Between 20% and 65% of this group of participants indicated that they had either completed or were undertaking a postgraduate qualification which had enhanced their research capacity. 59 , 60 , 71–73 , 75 , 77 , 78 , 81 , 82 , 88

Eleven studies that targeted AHPs reported that the participants lacked competence/confidence to undertake research. Similar results were obtained for five studies focused on nurses, two on physicians and one each on all HP groups and nurse-AHP group. Common features for these studies were overwhelming poor research capacity, very little or no prior research training/experience, low research culture with other work roles taking priority and need for research support. In one study, participants indicated that they had never attended research training nor spent time on research and reported mean confidence level of 38% (SD 27). 93

Overall, the results show that HPs’ confidence and expectancy to undertake research is largely dependent on research skills and experience gained through research training during their undergraduate/postgraduate education. The medical doctors were the most confident to undertake research as indicated in seven out of nine studies (77.8%) compared to nurses in five out of 11 (45.5%) studies; and AHPs in seven out of 18 (38.9%) studies. This may be attributed to the reported early exposure to research training and research experience by the medical doctors in comparison to nurses and AHPs. These findings highlight the impact of research training on perceived competence, confidence, and capability to participate in research.

HPs Attitude – This Relates to Value and Connection

As depicted in Table 3 , participants’ attitude to research was assessed as very positive in 17 (38%) studies, 16 , 32 , 55 , 56 , 60 , 65 , 66 , 68–70 , 72 , 73 , 75 , 84–87 positive in 21 (47%) studies 3 , 52 , 57–59 , 61 , 62 , 64 , 67 , 71 , 78–83 , 88 , 90–93 and negative in four (9%) 53 , 74 , 76 , 89 studies.

The 17 studies in which HPs were deemed very positive included six on medical doctors, 16 , 32 , 69 , 70 , 73 , 87 five on AHPs, 55 , 60 , 75 , 85 , 86 three on nurses 55 , 60 , 75 , 85 , 86 and three on a combination of the three groups. 56 , 65 , 66 The 21 studies that identified respondents as positive comprised nine on AHPs, 52 , 61 , 62 , 64 , 78 , 80–82 , 93 (including four on pharmacists 78 , 80–82 and one on physiotherapists), 93 five on nurses, 57 , 67 , 71 , 83 , 90 two on medical doctors 3 , 91 and five on a combination of the HP groups – two focused on all three HP groups, 59 , 92 two on AHPs and nurses 58 , 79 and one on medical doctors and nurses 88 The four studies in which HPs were identified as negative included two on AHPs – pharmacists 76 and psychologists, 53 one each on nurses 74 and medical doctors. 89 Another three studies reported their respondents as being afraid of research – two on AHPs 54 , 63 and one on nurses. 77

Generally, participants who demonstrated very positive attitude towards research were keen to contribute to clinical practice by engaging in collaborative research to advance clinical knowledge and improve patient health outcomes (utility value). Additionally, they were avidly interested in publishing, producing new knowledge, gaining grants and getting respect of colleagues (attainment value) as well as broadening personal scope of professional career and becoming knowledgeable researchers with genuine interest in research as a problem-solving tool 32 , 55 , 69 , 87 (intrinsic value). This group of participants had genuine curiosity and willingness to learn, were mostly satisfied with their jobs, wanted to develop research skills so they could increase knowledge and develop cutting edge research that proffer solutions to clinical problems. 55 , 60 , 75 , 85 , 86 They also felt a strong connection to research and their profession bodies. For example, research active pharmacists reported the importance of research in uplifting the pharmacy profession and enjoyed reading articles. 80 , 82

Participants who demonstrated positive attitude mainly viewed research as beneficial for making a difference in clinical care with improved patient health outcomes and service delivery. 16 , 70 , 73 , 91 This group focused on the utility of research and mainly focused on its benefits in improving clinical care and practice. For participants who were negative, the common attitude reported included perceived benefit only for the institution in which they worked. 89 They also did not feel supported by their organisation and therefore did not consider research as part of their role. Interestingly, one study on the medical group identified its participants as negative/not involved in research and perceived the value of research as solely for the benefit of patients and the institution in which they worked. 89 Nurses were negative in one study 74 and found research frightening in another. 77 Two studies on AHPs fell under the fear of research category. 54 , 63 This group of participants reported minuscule 63 or no value 54 for research and emphasised the need for connection and relatedness. Participants in the negative/fear of research groups were of the opinion that research was a “huge undertaking” and “daunting task”. 57

Overall, most of the participants in the medical group were very positive while the AHP and nursing groups were mostly in the positive category. Intrinsic value was seen as a pre-requisite for motivation, while utility value is the trigger for research to satisfy the need in clinical practice. 72 The results suggest that very positive attitude towards research is based on intrinsic and attainment values and these help the HPs develop strong long-term connection with research. On the other hand, negative attitude seemed to be linked to perceived low organisational support for research. Although participants with negative attitude acknowledged that research could improve clinical practice and boost professional reputation, but feelings of poor connection to research team created disillusion or fear. These findings indicate that sense of value and connection could be paramount in determining HPs’ level of motivation to engage with research.

HPs Barriers to Undertaking Research Relates to Cost and Autonomy

Table 4 depicts the barriers identified by the participant groups. The most frequently reported barriers to undertaking research were lack of time and funding. Lack of designated time for research was reported in 32 (71%) studies 3 , 32 , 52–57 , 59–66 , 70 , 72 , 74–76 , 78 , 80 , 82–85 , 87–89 , 91 , 92 while lack of funding (including incentives and failed grants) was identified as a significant barrier to conducting research in 18 (40%) studies, mostly by the medical doctors, 3 , 32 , 59 , 66 , 69 , 73 , 88 , 89 , 91 followed by the AHPs 53 , 55 , 60 , 62–64 , 75 , 80 and nurses. 72 , 88

Major Types of Barriers by Participant Groups

Respondents in 15 (33%) studies reported lack of confidence, competence, skills and/or research experience, 57 , 62–64 , 68 , 74–76 , 79 , 84 , 85 , 87 , 90 , 93 , 94 while 17 (38%) studies reported lack of organisational support as a significant barrier to research involvement 53–57 , 60 , 64 , 66 , 71 , 76–79 , 81–83 , 91 Lack of research competence and organisational support were mostly flagged by the AHPs, 52–55 , 60 , 62–64 , 75 , 76 , 78 , 79 , 81 , 82 , 85 , 93 followed by the nurses 57 , 68 , 71 , 74 , 77 , 83 , 84 , 90 and only few medical doctors. 87 , 91

Lack of training/resources/dedicated research team was mentioned by participant groups in 15 studies (33%) 3 , 16 , 56 , 57 , 60 , 62 , 64 , 66 , 74 , 77 , 81 , 84 , 88 , 89 , 91 Lack of knowledge was of concern in 11 studies (24%) and mostly acknowledged by the nursing group, 67 , 68 , 72 , 74 , 83 , 90 followed by the AHPs 79 , 80 , 85 , 95 and the medical group. 70 Lack of support (including acceptance by colleagues, reward and acknowledgement) was mentioned in 13 studies (29%) and mostly indicated by AHPs, 55 , 60 , 62 , 78 , 85 and the medical group. 16 , 32 , 91 Eight studies (18%) reported lack of supervision/mentors, 54 , 56 , 60 , 66 , 67 , 83 , 89 , 91 seven studies (16%) reported lack of interest in research. 57 , 64 , 70 , 76 , 83 , 84 , 86 Five studies each (11%) identified unrealistic workload/tedious research process 3 , 64 , 90–92 and access to literature as barriers to research, while lack of research opportunities was reported in 4 studies (9%). 65 , 80 , 82 , 87 Participants felt undervalued in one study 92 while another study found barriers specific to women 73 as a deterrent to their participation in research.

Overall, AHPs reported more barriers than nurses and medical doctors, particularly in relation to lack of organisational support, confidence, training, and acceptance by colleagues. Major barriers for nurses were lack of knowledge, training, and confidence; while for medical doctors, it was lack of funding. The results show that the AHPs and nurses were less able to demonstrate autonomy to engage with research in comparison to the medical doctors and they were mostly limited by lack of knowledge, training, and confidence which are important pre-requisites of research capability. This finding indicates that just as research knowledge and training can foster confidence and competence, lack of them can also serve as major and costly barriers that limit HPs’ capacity to participate in research.

Integration of the Elements of the Conceptual Frameworks

Integration of the findings based on the EVC 33 , 34 and SDT 40 , 41 theories indicate strong interactions between the three components – research capacity (expectancy and competence), attitude (value and connection), and barriers (cost and autonomy). Table 5 presents the relationship between the components that influence motivation to engage in research. Generally, HPs who were reported as competent (mostly studies on medical doctors or combination of all three groups 32 , 56 , 60 , 65 , 66 , 69 , 70 , 72 , 73 , 75 ) had prior exposure to research training either in their undergraduate or postgraduate education. This boosted their confidence and facilitated interest and connection with research in their career paths. In addition, engagement with research was based on the type of value (utility, intrinsic and attainment) HPs attached to research. Those who were very positive demonstrated all three types of value, felt connected to other research colleagues and despite multiple barriers, they had genuine interest which fostered their capacity for on-going, long-term research. They viewed research as highly beneficial in advancing clinical knowledge, improving patient health outcomes (utility value), producing new knowledge, gaining recognition (attainment value) as well as broadening personal scope of professional career and building sustainable problem-solving systems to identify solutions to key clinical problems (intrinsic value). Some HPs (mostly AHPs and nurses) were competent and positive in their attitude, but they exhibited only utility value 3 , 58 , 59 , 67 , 71 , 78 , 80–82 , 88 , 90 , 91 because connection with professional organisation was lacking. 3 , 59 Interestingly, another group of HPs reported high confidence/competence levels, but they were negative and feared research. 53 , 77 , 89 The reason for this attitude was the perception that research was not part of their job roles and there was no organisational support, so they did not see the connection with the research community. 53 This same reason was observed for HPs who lacked confidence, had no prior exposure and had negative attitude towards research. 54 , 63 , 74 , 76 They perceived that it had no value and involved a lot of personal cost for limited personal gain. 76 Others lacked confidence but because of their predisposing personal qualities and exposure to research, which was facilitated by workplace research opportunities, they had positive attitude towards research. 16 , 55 , 68 , 84–87

Integration of Theoretical Framework Elements by Participant Groups

Abbreviations : EVC, expectancy-value theory; SDT, self-determination theory; HMR, translational health and medical research; HPs, health professionals; PRISMA, Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses; EVC, expectancy-value-cost model of motivation; QATSDD, Quality Assessment Tool for Studies with Diverse Designs.

Overall, the type of value attributed to research directly influenced the relevance of barriers and affected motivation to participate in research. As shown in Figure 2 , participants who were very positive displayed an attitude inclusive of attainment, intrinsic and utility values as well as connectedness to research and were able to overcome the barriers relating to cost with a display of great autonomy. HPs who were positive but lacking confidence/requiring support, mainly subscribed to utility values and were limited by the burden of barriers. HPs who reported low expectancy and competence, exhibited total lack of value for research, had no sense of belonging or attachment to researchers in their organisations, focused on the barriers/ limitations and therefore had no interest to undertake research. These findings indicate that prior exposure to research training increases expectancy and confidence, but type of value placed on research determines the strength of connection to research, and ability to disregard the myriads of challenges/barriers. High values foster on-going intrinsic commitment and long-term motivation to engage with research.

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Process of motivation to do research.

Various strategies and assumptions have been made and tested regarding the reasons for the decline in the uptake/continuation of research by HPs and how to build research capacity among HPs. 3 , 7 , 55 , 61 , 96–98 Despite these efforts, little headway has been made which necessitates taking the opportunity of examining HPs engagement in research through a different lens. This review has explored the literature with a focus on understanding HPs’ motivation to do research through the EVC 33 , 34 and SDT 40 , 41 theoretical constructs and an investigation of expectancy, research capacity, attitude and barriers as precursors to motivation to undertake/continue with research. The elements in these theories have been used to understand the interactions and sequence of occurrence of themes to allow for long-term motivation to do research.

Based on SDT with its elements of competence, connection, and autonomy, the review findings posit that competence is enhanced if there is prior exposure to research in undergraduate/postgraduate space and this then influences graduates when they come into the workspace as it helps them to get that connection and a sense of belonging with other research active members of the organisation and that makes them feel that they are in control and they are able to keep going. 41 , 44 However, if HPs have not had prior exposure to research and there is no perceived organisational support, they see the barriers or limitations more and that sometimes frightens them and stops them from engaging in research. 44

EVC follows a similar pattern as it considers HPs’ expectancy or anticipated ability to do research which is fostered by that confidence gained from prior exposure to research in their undergraduate/postgraduate years. Taking it one step further, EVC helps to unpack the importance of value that is attached to research. The findings from this review predicate that even when research training is strong, which is important for confidence building and expectancy to do well in research, what keeps HPs motivated and helps them to overlook or disregard the myriads of barriers is the kind of value they attach to research.

Factors which motivate and facilitate research by HPs are dependent on both extrinsic and intrinsic variables. 49 These variables are dynamic in nature and are influenced at the individual, organisational and cultural level in a dynamic research ecosystem. 98 In this review, in most cases those who were competent in their research capacity, with high expectations of success and had very positive attitude towards research demonstrated all three values attributed to doing research (intrinsic – personal enjoyment, utility – future usefulness and attainment – doing well). This group of HPs were keen to take up research despite the barriers. Those who had a positive attitude were only motivated to do research because of its utility value, although they did not necessarily see it as having personal relevance for themselves. 57 , 61 , 88 , 90 , 93 Those who were unmotivated did not see any connection or relatedness to the research experience for themselves, felt it was too difficult and had very low ability beliefs which de-valued active participation in research. 54 , 74 , 76 , 77 Ability beliefs have been predicted to positively impact expectancy and research capacity, while task difficulty negatively impacts expectancy. 33

The barriers to involvement in research which were identified in this review corroborate previous literature findings and centre around lack of knowledge and skills to conduct research, 94 , 97 lack of protected research time, 99 , 100 lack of funding 69 , 101 , 102 and lack of support from colleagues, and the organisation. 54 , 74 , 76 , 77 Clinical workloads take precedence over time available for research 17 , 56 and this was confirmed in a recent Australian study which reported that 55% of research active doctors spend most of their time on clinical activities. 3 Studies have also shown that research careers pay lower salary than clinical careers 3 , 13 and offer lower job security relative to clinical careers. 3 , 101 These issues are compounded by the difficulty in getting research grants 13 , 32 and the lower funding rates available for research. 3 , 102 Lack of resources was also a deterrent for otherwise motivated medical professionals to engage in research. 16 , 32

The lack of support, acceptance by colleagues, reward and acknowledgement highlighted in this review can be attributed to lack of organisational support. Studies have shown that organisational challenges such as lack of acknowledgement and recognition of medical professionals undertaking a research role by their peers and by the organisation for which they work are significant barriers to research involvement. 32 , 103 Several studies found that medical professionals had difficulty finding a mentor for their research project. 102 , 104 , 105 In this review, for HPs who were negative, the emphasis was on the concept of lack of mentorship which would have offered a sense of connection to inspire an attitude of value (intrinsic, attainment, and/ or utility), boosting confidence and providing support for research participation. 106 , 107 Effective mentorship has been identified as vital for HPs undertaking research 70 , 108 , 109 and an important contributor to research success. 110 Mentoring programmes that support the health researcher with resources and expertise will optimise research training and research outcomes. 60 , 111 Healthcare organisations in Australia, 21 the US 108 , 110 , 111 and the UK 96 have been encouraged to include meaningful mentoring programmes into their research profile at all stages of the clinical academic training and career pathway from medical student, intern and pre-vocational doctor, vocational trainee, post-doctoral/early fellowships and definite appointment. 21 Positive reinforcement by research active HPs is critical at all stages of the research training and career pipeline. 3 , 112 An effective mentorship program is integral to establishing or building a research culture within the HPs’ organisation. 56 Conducive organisational research culture enhances research capacity building, which is enhanced by developing organisational structure, processes and systems, developing appropriate links with external partners and research career pathways 16 , 94 to enable health researchers to conduct research in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment where research is valued and resourced. 96 , 113 An organisational culture that supports research and enables building research capacity through supporting research training, quarantined time for research and adequate funding espouses the value of research which engenders connection. Overall, barriers impact on attitude to conduct research 66 , 70 , 80 , 82–84 , 87–89 , 100 and by implication affect response to the cost of doing research and significantly contribute to undervaluing research. 49 , 65

The concept of value in research is of primary importance and is an area that needs to be focused on, particularly during training. 61 , 64 Emphasis should be placed on the value elements of motivation, with focus on attainment and intrinsic motivation. Explaining that value goes beyond the utility of research in clinical practice, is a useful way of introducing and developing an appreciation of attainment value which is about professional gains and fostering intrinsic value, which is about being involved in finding solutions to clinical problems as such an approach may keep HPs engaged in research. This strategy may be worthy of consideration by accrediting professional bodies, educational institutions, funding bodies and workplace organisations in their endeavours to foster uptake and retention of research activities by HPs.

Of all three HP groups, AHPs were the most lacking confidence and requiring support which may be attributed to having less research training and research experience than the other groups. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that amongst the AHPs, the pharmacists were the most confident to undertake research. The findings of this systematic review also indicate that medical professionals, possibly due to their prior exposure to research training and research experience are in a better position than AHPs and nurses to overcome the barriers. Future studies could investigate how HPs navigate their way through barriers at different career stages – early, mid-career, late career. Future explorations could also consider whether the three HP groups (AHPs, medical doctors, nurses) follow similar or dissimilar trajectories in terms of how their research values change over their career stages.

The ability to accurately inform potential researchers regarding the attractions and barriers to health research in their careers, and to implement strategies to reverse current concerning trends in the decline of health professionals engaging in research will help to ensure HPs’ leadership in HMR into the foreseeable future. Furthermore, utilisation of theoretical frameworks that inform processes and facilitate a culture of HP research would enable optimisation of health workforce research capability and high-quality care.

Strengths and Limitations

The major strength of this review is the integration of the EVC and SDT theories which offer an overarching construct that provide in-depth understanding into HPs’ motivation to do research. Additionally, the quality appraisal of the reviewed articles provides evidence for the methodological rigour of the reviewed articles and strengthens the interpretation of the findings because all the articles were assessed as medium to high-quality studies. However, interpretation of the results must be applied cautiously due to some inherent limitations of the review. Generalisation of the findings may be limited by the authors’ interpretation of the investigated research elements/domains in the reviewed papers. Other limitations of this review include the heterogeneity of the included studies and the possible exclusion of relevant studies due to the pre-set inclusion criteria.

Overall, this review provides good evidence for the practicality of EVC and SDT in understanding HPs’ motivation to do research. In line with SDT elements, competence is enhanced by prior exposure to research training, and this enhances autonomy and connection with other research active members of the organisation. Similarly, EVC considers HPs’ expectancy or anticipated ability to do research which is fostered by confidence gained from prior exposure to research. EVC further emphasises the impactful effect of the type of value attributed to research on the relevance HPs attach to the myriads of barriers they face and their motivation to engage in research. The findings from this systematic review indicate priority facilitators to research participation revolve around the themes of allocated time for research, funding, research training, strong organisational research culture and mentorship program. The importance of confidence building and the expectation to succeed leading to competency through research education and training is accentuated. Nonetheless, autonomy and on-going motivation to actively engage in research are mostly influenced by HPs’ attitude vis-A-vis the three value components – intrinsic attainment and utility. Therefore, emphasis on the value attributes of research may be worthy of note by accrediting professional bodies, educational institutions, funding bodies and workplace organisations as critical to the research pipeline and the motivation of HPs to undertake research.

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge Mr Chris Parker, Manager Library Services, the Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Queensland for his input in the development of the search strategy.

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

An illustration showing a desktop computer with a large magnifying glass over the search bar, a big purple folder with a document inside, a light bulb, and graphs. How to do market research blog post.

How To Do Market Research: Definition, Types, Methods

Jan 2, 2024

11 min. read

Market research isn’t just collecting data. It’s a strategic tool that allows businesses to gain a competitive advantage while making the best use of their resources. Research reveals valuable insights into your target audience about their preferences, buying habits, and emerging demands — all of which help you unlock new opportunities to grow your business.

When done correctly, market research can minimize risks and losses, spur growth, and position you as a leader in your industry. 

Let’s explore the basic building blocks of market research and how to collect and use data to move your company forward:

Table of Contents

What Is Market Research?

Why is market research important, market analysis example, 5 types of market research, what are common market research questions, what are the limitations of market research, how to do market research, improving your market research with radarly.

Market Research Definition: The process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about a market or audience.

doing a market research

Market research studies consumer behavior to better understand how they perceive products or services. These insights help businesses identify ways to grow their current offering, create new products or services, and improve brand trust and brand recognition .

You might also hear market research referred to as market analysis or consumer research .

Traditionally, market research has taken the form of focus groups, surveys, interviews, and even competitor analysis . But with modern analytics and research tools, businesses can now capture deeper insights from a wider variety of sources, including social media, online reviews, and customer interactions. These extra layers of intel can help companies gain a more comprehensive understanding of their audience.

With consumer preferences and markets evolving at breakneck speeds, businesses need a way to stay in touch with what people need and want. That’s why the importance of market research cannot be overstated.

Market research offers a proactive way to identify these trends and make adjustments to product development, marketing strategies , and overall operations. This proactive approach can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and remain agile as markets shift.

Market research examples abound — given the number of ways companies can get inside the minds of their customers, simply skimming through your business’s social media comments can be a form of market research.

A restaurant chain might use market research methods to learn more about consumers’ evolving dining habits. These insights might be used to offer new menu items, re-examine their pricing strategies, or even open new locations in different markets, for example.

A consumer electronics company might use market research for similar purposes. For instance, market research may reveal how consumers are using their smart devices so they can develop innovative features.

Market research can be applied to a wide range of use cases, including:

  • Testing new product ideas
  • Improve existing products
  • Entering new markets
  • Right-sizing their physical footprints
  • Improving brand image and awareness
  • Gaining insights into competitors via competitive intelligence

Ultimately, companies can lean on market research techniques to stay ahead of trends and competitors while improving the lives of their customers.

Market research methods take different forms, and you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. Let’s review the most common market research techniques and the insights they deliver.

1. Interviews

3. Focus Groups

4. Observations

5. AI-Driven Market Research

One-on-one interviews are one of the most common market research techniques. Beyond asking direct questions, skilled interviewers can uncover deeper motivations and emotions that drive purchasing decisions. Researchers can elicit more detailed and nuanced responses they might not receive via other methods, such as self-guided surveys.

colleagues discussing a market research

Interviews also create the opportunity to build rapport with customers and prospects. Establishing a connection with interviewees can encourage them to open up and share their candid thoughts, which can enrich your findings. Researchers also have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions and dig deeper based on individual responses.

Market research surveys provide an easy entry into the consumer psyche. They’re cost-effective to produce and allow researchers to reach lots of people in a short time. They’re also user-friendly for consumers, which allows companies to capture more responses from more people.

Big data and data analytics are making traditional surveys more valuable. Researchers can apply these tools to elicit a deeper understanding from responses and uncover hidden patterns and correlations within survey data that were previously undetectable.

The ways in which surveys are conducted are also changing. With the rise of social media and other online channels, brands and consumers alike have more ways to engage with each other, lending to a continuous approach to market research surveys.

3. Focus groups

Focus groups are “group interviews” designed to gain collective insights. This interactive setting allows participants to express their thoughts and feelings openly, giving researchers richer insights beyond yes-or-no responses.

focus group as part of a market research

One of the key benefits of using focus groups is the opportunity for participants to interact with one another. They spark discussions while sharing diverse viewpoints. These sessions can uncover underlying motivations and attitudes that may not be easily expressed through other research methods.

Observing your customers “in the wild” might feel informal, but it can be one of the most revealing market research techniques of all. That’s because you might not always know the right questions to ask. By simply observing, you can surface insights you might not have known to look for otherwise.

This method also delivers raw, authentic, unfiltered data. There’s no room for bias and no potential for participants to accidentally skew the data. Researchers can also pick up on non-verbal cues and gestures that other research methods may fail to capture.

5. AI-driven market research

One of the newer methods of market research is the use of AI tools to collect and analyze insights on your behalf. AI customer intelligence tools and consumer insights software like Meltwater Radarly take an always-on approach by going wherever your audience is and continuously predicting behaviors based on current behaviors.

By leveraging advanced algorithms, machine learning, and big data analysis , AI enables companies to uncover deep-seated patterns and correlations within large datasets that would be near impossible for human researchers to identify. This not only leads to more accurate and reliable findings but also allows businesses to make informed decisions with greater confidence.

Tip: Learn how Meltwater uses AI and learn more about consumer insights and about consumer insights in the fashion industry .

No matter the market research methods you use, market research’s effectiveness lies in the questions you ask. These questions should be designed to elicit honest responses that will help you reach your goals.

Examples of common market research questions include:

Demographic market research questions

  • What is your age range?
  • What is your occupation?
  • What is your household income level?
  • What is your educational background?
  • What is your gender?

Product or service usage market research questions

  • How long have you been using [product/service]?
  • How frequently do you use [product/service]?
  • What do you like most about [product/service]?
  • Have you experienced any problems using [product/service]?
  • How could we improve [product/service]?
  • Why did you choose [product/service] over a competitor’s [product/service]?

Brand perception market research questions

  • How familiar are you with our brand?
  • What words do you associate with our brand?
  • How do you feel about our brand?
  • What makes you trust our brand?
  • What sets our brand apart from competitors?
  • What would make you recommend our brand to others?

Buying behavior market research questions

  • What do you look for in a [product/service]?
  • What features in a [product/service] are important to you?
  • How much time do you need to choose a [product/service]?
  • How do you discover new products like [product/service]?
  • Do you prefer to purchase [product/service] online or in-store?
  • How do you research [product/service] before making a purchase?
  • How often do you buy [product/service]?
  • How important is pricing when buying [product/service]?
  • What would make you switch to another brand of [product/service]?

Customer satisfaction market research questions

  • How happy have you been with [product/service]?
  • What would make you more satisfied with [product/service]?
  • How likely are you to continue using [product/service]?

Bonus Tip: Compiling these questions into a market research template can streamline your efforts.

Market research can offer powerful insights, but it also has some limitations. One key limitation is the potential for bias. Researchers may unconsciously skew results based on their own preconceptions or desires, which can make your findings inaccurate.

  • Depending on your market research methods, your findings may be outdated by the time you sit down to analyze and act on them. Some methods struggle to account for rapidly changing consumer preferences and behaviors.
  • There’s also the risk of self-reported data (common in online surveys). Consumers might not always accurately convey their true feelings or intentions. They might provide answers they think researchers are looking for or misunderstand the question altogether.
  • There’s also the potential to miss emerging or untapped markets . Researchers are digging deeper into what (or who) they already know. This means you might be leaving out a key part of the story without realizing it.

Still, the benefits of market research cannot be understated, especially when you supplement traditional market research methods with modern tools and technology.

Let’s put it all together and explore how to do market research step-by-step to help you leverage all its benefits.

Step 1: Define your objectives

You’ll get more from your market research when you hone in on a specific goal : What do you want to know, and how will this knowledge help your business?

This step will also help you define your target audience. You’ll need to ask the right people the right questions to collect the information you want. Understand the characteristics of the audience and what gives them authority to answer your questions.

Step 2: Select your market research methods

Choose one or more of the market research methods (interviews, surveys, focus groups, observations, and/or AI-driven tools) to fuel your research strategy.

Certain methods might work better than others for specific goals . For example, if you want basic feedback from customers about a product, a simple survey might suffice. If you want to hone in on serious pain points to develop a new product, a focus group or interview might work best.

You can also source secondary research , such as industry reports or analyses from large market research firms. These can help you gather preliminary information and inform your approach.

team analyzing the market research results

Step 3: Develop your research tools

Prior to working with participants, you’ll need to craft your survey or interview questions, interview guides, and other tools. These tools will help you capture the right information , weed out non-qualifying participants, and keep your information organized.

You should also have a system for recording responses to ensure data accuracy and privacy. Test your processes before speaking with participants so you can spot and fix inefficiencies or errors.

Step 4: Conduct the market research

With a system in place, you can start looking for candidates to contribute to your market research. This might include distributing surveys to current customers or recruiting participants who fit a specific profile, for example.

Set a time frame for conducting your research. You might collect responses over the course of a few days, weeks, or even months. If you’re using AI tools to gather data, choose a data range for your data to focus on the most relevant information.

Step 5: Analyze and apply your findings

Review your findings while looking for trends and patterns. AI tools can come in handy in this phase by analyzing large amounts of data on your behalf.

Compile your findings into an easy-to-read report and highlight key takeaways and next steps. Reports aren’t useful unless the reader can understand and act on them.

Tip: Learn more about trend forecasting , trend detection , and trendspotting .

Meltwater’s Radarly consumer intelligence suite helps you reap the benefits of market research on an ongoing basis. Using a combination of AI, data science, and market research expertise, Radarly scans multiple global data sources to learn what people are talking about, the actions they’re taking, and how they’re feeling about specific brands.

Meltwater Radarly screenshot for market research

Our tools are created by market research experts and designed to help researchers uncover what they want to know (and what they don’t know they want to know). Get data-driven insights at scale with information that’s always relevant, always accurate, and always tailored to your organization’s needs.

Learn more when you request a demo by filling out the form below:

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do a research / make a research

  • Thread starter Gema
  • Start date Jul 23, 2004
  • Jul 23, 2004

Hi! I'm a spanish girl. Now I'm doing an english course and I must do a writing for monday. I have a doubt. Which of this two options is correct, "do a research" or "make a research"? Thank you in advance for your help. Gema  

''Do a research , is more appropriate..although you can very well say i am going to research on this subject  

rinks said: ''Do a research , is more appropriate..although you can very well say i am going to research on this subject Click to expand...

Administrator

Hi Gema, (Yes, this type of question is much more appropriate.) Welcome to the forum! For many "hacer un ..." constructions in Spanish, we just use the verb form of the noun. So, we would usually say "We researched" or "We are researching."  

hypertweeky

Senior member.

  • Jul 24, 2004
Gema said: Hi! I'm a spanish girl. Now I'm doing an english course and I must do a writing for monday. I have a doubt. Which of this two options is correct, "do a research" or "make a research"? Thank you in advance for your help. Gema Click to expand...
  • Jul 25, 2004

el alabamiano

You can also use: I'm going to do some research / I did some research /  

el alabamiano said: You can also use: I'm going to do some research / I did some research / Click to expand...

Mary Solari

  • Jul 31, 2004

Norman P. Bock

  • Aug 1, 2004

If you are using "research" as a noun, you would say doing "research" or do "research". But "research" is also a verb. So you can either say "I am going to do research on the causes of the civil war." Or you can just say, "I am going to research the causes of the civil war."  

elroy

Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)

"To research a subject" (not ON a subject) suggests something relatively in-depth. "To do research on a subject" suggests little or partial research. "To conduct" or "carry out" research on a subject would be a more elevated way to express the same idea. As was said, definitely not "make." Hope this helps.  

  • Apr 6, 2007
elroy said: "To research a subject" (not ON a subject) suggests something relatively in-depth. "To do research on a subject" suggests little or partial research. "To conduct" or "carry out" research on a subject would be a more elevated way to express the same idea. As was said, definitely not "make." Hope this helps. Click to expand...
  • Apr 11, 2008

Gema to do a research on a topic is more common I hope that I helped you  

Wilma_Sweden

Wilma_Sweden

I have also found that you can undertake or carry out research, and that into and on are valid prepositions. However, when using research as a verb , my dictionaries (Longman & Cambridge online) give into as the only valid preposition. I have also found research used in the plural, e.g. scientists being awarded the Nobel Prize for their researches into [whatever subject], and I'm assuming that this is idiomatic if you are referring to multiple research projects. /Wilma  

  • Dec 2, 2009

Hi! I actually have a question about what follows the word research . Can you say, f. e. , I did some research about it, or should it always be on/into or without anything like > I researched it. I'm really confused and I don't know what's wrong or right anymore. Thanks for your help.  

thoughtdots

  • May 15, 2011

Let's say I researched World War II. I think it sounds better to either say, "I researched WWII" or "I did research on WWII". However, if you use any other preposition, people will still understand you.  

  • Jan 22, 2014
  • Dec 14, 2015

Hi! What about 'I did my own research to prepare a talk for the students' ? In this case I'm using it as a noun, but if its uncountable would it be ok to 'classify' it as 'my own'? Thanks!  

Member Emeritus

Yes, "my own research" is fine.  

  • Aug 28, 2020
Maigualida said: ‘I have to conduct a research or I conducted a research’ . Click to expand...
  • Aug 29, 2020
Maigualida said: Can I correct ? Instead of saying to do research yo say ‘I have to conduct a research or I conducted a research’ . ( the verb conduct is more common) Also you don’t say I must do a writing, you say: I have to write a paper about... The days of the week are written with capital letters...Monday, Tuesday , etc I hits it helps Click to expand...

Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.

Uncovering the Mystery of Mastery

New research shows why it feels so good to take control of your life..

Posted January 2, 2024 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk

  • What Is Resilience?
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  • Mastery is a term that may imply perfection, but in psychology it refers to an inner sense of competence.
  • New research shows the benefits to psychological well-being of feeling that inner sense of mastery.
  • Looking at our life events as situations we can control can be an important way to build fulfillment.

When you think about the word “mastery,” what comes to mind? Do you regard it as a kind of expert ability that you acquire after years of training? Like a “master chef,” this use of the term suggests that you can’t exactly obtain this status just by wishing you could.

It might surprise you, then, to learn that psychology takes a very different approach to defining mastery and its relevance to mental health. Tied in with an inner sense of competence, this use of the term implies that you can exercise your abilities to their best, even if you don’t win awards or gain fame.

From this starting point, it might then make sense that the feeling of mastery has the potential to bring about greater well-being and satisfaction with yourself and your life. Indeed, according to a new study by Griffith University’s Adam Novic and colleagues (2023), mastery implies that you have “control over the important forces that affect your life.” What’s more, mastery is “malleable” in its ability to help you reduce stress.

How Do You Acquire Mastery?

Now that you understand that a sense of mastery is related to a belief in your own powers to control your life, the question becomes one of trying to figure out how to make it part of your psychological storehouse to protect you from stress. Before turning to the specifics of the Australian study, it’s worth trying to see how to apply it to yourself.

Begin by imagining yourself facing what seems like a really challenging task. It can even be as simple as finding a lost object, somewhat small in size, that somehow disappeared without you realizing it. You know for certain that the item is in your household, so it’s not something you dropped outside or forgot to take when you left the last place you were. The object itself doesn’t have to be particularly valuable. Just the idea that you can’t find it causes frustration to build up inside you. One approach to the dilemma would be to start flinging things around everywhere, hoping it will turn up. If you were to engage your sense of mastery, though, you would tell yourself that you have the ability to find it as long as you maintain your composure. After a few minutes of systematic exploration, sure enough, you’re reunited with the lost object.

Being able to achieve such a goal, though insignificant in the larger scheme of things, can strengthen your sense of mastery. You wanted to do something, it was hard, but you did it. This simple formula is enough to give your competence a boost.

Testing Mastery’s Role in Psychological Distress

Although this example shows a happy ending to a stressful situation, many challenges that people face do not end up getting resolved. In some cases, the problem is unsolvable because it is just too difficult. However, an unhappy ending doesn’t have to erode your sense of mastery. If you know that you’ve tried your best, then you should still manage to avoid becoming despondent. Importantly, according to Novic et al., don’t come to a conclusion that fate somehow conspired against you. Believing in “fatalistic rule” is what can make a bad situation worse.

The Griffith U. research team sought to examine mastery as a predictor of (low) psychological distress in a sample of middle-aged adults, but they believed that its power would become even stronger if it were evaluated along with physical activity. There is ample evidence from prior research that people in their middle years of adulthood who engage in physical activity on a regular basis feel better psychologically. Part of the explanation could be that active individuals know they’re taking steps to prevent disease. Physical activity also has its own emotional reward partly due to what happens when the endorphins “kick in.”

With respect to mastery, being physically active could also help you feel more in control of those forces that can conspire to accelerate age-related losses in the body. This would seem especially important in middle age when some of those losses start to become apparent. Knowing that you’re doing everything you can to stave off the aging process can reinforce that inner sense of control.

Novic et al. built a statistical model predicting the role of mastery and physical activity in contributing to psychological distress, which they measured by having participants rate their levels of anxiety and distress in the past month on a 0-to-4 scale. A well-established mastery scale asked respondents to rate the extent to which they regarded aspects of life as being under personal control or fatalistically ruled (e.g., “What happens to me in the future mostly depends on me.”). To assess physical activity, the research team asked respondents to indicate the total amount of time in the past week they engaged in light to vigorous activities, ranging from walking to aerobics.

The 7,145 Australian adults in the study were between 40 and 64 years old, and the research team also controlled for such influences on the results as gender , country of birth, education , employment status, and living arrangements. Most (83 percent) reported their health as good or excellent.

Turning to the findings, sense of mastery indeed predicted the outcomes of lower psychological distress. However, contrary to the study’s hypotheses, physical activity played no additional role in relating to the outcome. There were several plausible reasons for this, but the bottom line is that the mental adjustments involved in feeling control over your life seem to be enough on their own to keep distress at bay. As the authors concluded, “Mastery is considered a part of one’s self-concept central to managing stressors and can help regulate experiences of psychological distress.” Don’t give up on your exercise routines quite yet, though, because there can also be a connection that needs to elapse over time. The Australian study only included one time of measurement, so such “lagged” effects couldn’t be examined.

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Mastering Your Sense of Mastery

Now that the “mystery” has been revealed, and you can see clearly from this large-scale study how much of a role it can play in promoting well-being, it’s time to return to the question of how to establish it in your own life.

In the first place, ask yourself honestly how many times a day you turn to “fate” as an explanation of what’s happening to you. Is it bad luck that you lost that object, or did you lose it because you weren’t paying attention to what you were doing? Even if the loss occurred for some freak reason (the item took a bad bounce when it fell), you can still draw from your inner resources to figure out how to reclaim it.

Next, try to “take the win” when something good happens to you. The flip side of blaming fate when things go wrong is to thank fate when they go right. Instead, why not give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done?

These simple interpretations of your experiences can become the building blocks of a stronger sense of mastery. You can then move on from there to finding ways to exercise your own sense of competence. Do an inventory of your strengths and then use activities based on those strengths to bolster your ability to derive satisfaction from completing them. Again, remember that “mastery” isn’t the goal in the sense of showing your expertise. Throw those standards aside and take pleasure from the activities themselves.

To sum up, mastery can be a solid basis for you to build your sense of control over the forces that run your life. Taking charge of those forces is what ultimately will allow you to experience the fulfillment of exercising your competence.

Novic, A. J., Seib, C., & Burton, N. W. (2023). Mastery, physical activity and psychological distress in mid-aged adults. Australian Journal of Psychology, 75(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/00049530.2022.2153623

Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. , is a Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her latest book is The Search for Fulfillment.

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Living Better

9 ways to get healthier in 2024 without trying very hard.

Carmel Wroth, photographed for NPR, 22 January 2020, in Washington DC.

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Walking, biking or even riding a scooter to get from place to place ups your non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. Small movements can make a positive difference to your overall health. Laura Gao for NPR hide caption

Walking, biking or even riding a scooter to get from place to place ups your non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. Small movements can make a positive difference to your overall health.

Sometimes trying to be healthy feels like just another item on your endless, exhausting to-do list. Here on NPR's health team, we don't want to add to anyone's stress. The good news is that it doesn't take great feats of fitness or a heroic commitment to good habits to stay well. Often small changes can make a significant difference.

In 2023, our reporters turned up the latest research on how to stay well without stressing out about it. We highlighted these in our series Living Better, on what it takes to get healthy in America .

Below are some of our best wellness tips from 2023.

1. Get healthier without even going to a gym

Hate the gym? That's cool. Scientists now say you can get a lot of the health benefits associated with exercise just by increasing how active you are in your daily life. Think of low-effort movements like sweeping the floor, strolling through the grocery aisle, climbing the stairs, bobbing your leg up and down at your desk or stirring the pot while you cook. Researchers have studied this kind of movement and given it the moniker NEAT, which stands for this mouthful: non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Learn how NEAT can keep you healthier and how to get more of it.

2. Flip hunger into satisfaction with this cheap superfood

Weight-loss drugs like Ozempic mimic a hormone that our bodies make naturally to curb food cravings. What if we could increase levels of this hormone (called GLP-1) through our diet? Whether or not we're trying to lose weight, many of us would like to feel sated longer after we eat and be a little less beholden to our sweet (or salt) tooth.

It turns out that, yes, you can increase satiety hormones by eating more foods with fiber — especially what's known as fermentable fiber, which is found in foods such as oats, rye, whole wheat and many legumes. Read the full story on your body's satiety hormones.

Get more health news from NPR For the latest news on the science of healthy living, click here to subscribe NPR's weekly health newsletter.

Plus, there's a host of other reasons to eat more fiber — it helps control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol and inflammation. And it's linked to a lower risk of issues like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The good news is that foods with fiber are often cheap. And adding more fiber to your meals isn't as hard as it sounds — we've got tips .

3. Little acts of joy can have a big payoff

Small moments add up. From chatting up a stranger , to taking time to reframe a bad day and find the silver lining, to noticing the beauty of nature , science shows that moments like these make a difference to your well-being. Even petting other people's dogs can give you a boost. The recently launched Big Joy Project from the University of California, Berkeley is gathering data that shows that we can change our emotional state by embracing these "micro-acts" of happiness.

Learn more about how to up your joy quotient — plus how to participate in the ongoing citizen science project.

4. Outsmart dopamine and screens

Over the past few years, neuroscientists have started to better understand what's going on in our brains when we can't stop scrolling through social media or stop shopping online, eating junk food or playing video games. These types of activities trigger surges of the neurotransmitter dopamine. And it's now becoming clear that rather than giving us pleasure, dopamine drives craving, the urge for more. It has a strong, though short-term, hold on our willpower. Understanding how this works can help shift how you manage your own or your kids' behavior.

Here are four ways to outsmart dopamine and ease off compulsive cravings for screens or sweets.

5. Learn from the Japanese way of life

When NPR's Yuki Noguchi visited her parents in Japan recently, she logged an average of 6 miles a day running errands with her folks by foot. That's because Japanese cities are designed for walkability and most people take public transport and walk wherever they need to go. And that's not all: Fresh food is highly prized there, so even convenience store meals to-go are nutritious and not packed with additives. The country has a "default design" that supports wellness, making healthy choices automatic. It's not so easy, in many cases, to re-create that in the U.S., but there are ways to adopt parts of the lifestyle — walk whenever you can, choose fresh over packaged — and live more like the Japanese .

6. Combat loneliness through creativity

Loneliness is linked to all kinds of health problems, including increased risk of heart attacks and dementia. And forging new social connections — even with casual acquaintances — can counter that. But how do you break out of an isolated rut?

Jeremy Nobel , a primary care physician and the author of the new book Project UnLonely , has an idea: get artsy. Research shows that making art or even viewing it reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases levels of the feel-good hormones, like endorphins and oxytocin. In other words, it can put you in a relaxed mood, which can help create an inviting vibe to connect.

And you don't have to be Picasso; almost any creative act will do, including cooking, gardening, even doodling. Here are five tips from Noble's new book for how to connect, via creativity.

7. Find a therapist you can afford

You could compare finding a therapist to apartment hunting in a crowded housing market. Demand is high; availability is limited. It requires persistence, flexibility and the knowledge that you may not be able to check every one of your boxes. Some people feel so daunted by the prospect that they give up, especially if they're trying to find someone who is covered by their insurance or is low cost. At the same time, you may have more options available than you know. Here's a step-by-step guide to finding a therapist who fits your needs and your budget.

8. Cut back on the ultraprocessed foods in your diet

Read the ingredients list of your favorite packaged snack, and you'll find some things you've surely never stocked in your kitchen pantry, like additives that thicken, emulsify, stabilize or preserve. And that's not to mention high levels of sugar, fat and sodium. Eating a lot of ultraprocessed foods like sodas, TV dinners and packaged sweets is linked to health problems like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease .

And most of us are likely eating more of these foods than we realize: Ultraprocessed foods make up nearly 60% of what the typical U.S. adult eats and nearly 70% of what kids eat.

So do you need to completely overhaul your family's diet? Researchers say to start by cutting back. After all, there's a reason why busy families like packaged foods: They're convenient, tasty and affordable. So how can you make healthier choices without breaking the bank or cooking late into the night? Start by learning to recognize ultraprocessed foods and then try these easy ways to cut back, plus some smart swaps for kids' favorite junk foods .

9. Manage back and neck pain

If you suffer from back or neck pain, you probably know that hunching over screens isn't helping. You might have tried improving your ergonomic setup and posture, but exercise research points to another strategy: taking short spurts of movement throughout the day to release tension and stress in the body.

When the brain senses physical or emotional stress, the body releases hormones that trigger muscles to become guarded and tight. Movement breaks counter that stress response by increasing blood flow to muscles, tendons and ligaments and sending nutrients to the spine.

Here are five exercises to prevent pain , developed by fitness specialists at NASA, an agency where people work in high-stress seated positions.

And sometimes living better with back pain is a matter of making adaptations to how you do the things you love — we've got smart hacks for cooking with back pain and adjustments to make so you can get out and garden .

Correction Jan. 2, 2024

An earlier version of this story mistakenly said the Big Joy Project was from Stanford University. In fact, it's from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Cardio or weights first? A kinesiologist explains how to optimize the order of your exercise routine

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When you enter the gym, which way should you head first? Toward the treadmills and spin studio to get your sweat on with a cardio session? Or toward the free weights and strength-training machines to do some resistance training?

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests doing both types of exercise to take advantage of their unique benefits for improving health and daily functioning and reducing chronic disease risk. But what is the optimal sequence to get the best results?

The answer to this question is … it depends. I’m an exercise physiologist . Recently in my lab we have been studying the effects of combinations of aerobic and resistance training on improving health-related fitness, particularly aerobic capacity and muscular strength.

Research suggests that when you’re designing your exercise program, there are a few factors to take into account, including your age, fitness level and exercise history and goals. You’ll also want to consider the volume of your exercise routine – that is, its duration and intensity – and how you’ll schedule your training during the day.

Benefits of exercise

First, just about any exercise at all is going to be better for you than doing nothing.

Aerobic exercise is rhythmic activity that gets your heart pumping. Examples are walking, running, swimming, cycling and using a cardio machine such as an elliptical trainer.

Aerobic exercise can improve cardiorespiratory function – over time, your heart and lungs get better at delivering oxygen to your muscles to make energy for continued muscle contractions. Aerobic exercise can also reduce several chronic disease risk factors, increase how much energy your body uses and how much fat it burns, and improve physical and cognitive function.

Resistance training involves strengthening your muscles by lifting, pushing or pulling against resistance. This type of exercise can be done using free-weight barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight machines or even elastic bands.

Resistance exercise improves muscular strength, endurance and the power and the size of muscles – what exercise physiologists call muscle hypertrophy . Studies show resistance training has health-related benefits, as well, particularly for people who have or are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes . It can improve blood pressure, blood levels of glucose and the ability of muscles to use glucose for energy, and it helps maintain lean body mass and bone health.

smiling woman and man walking outdoors with hand weights

Training for health benefits

With a limited amount of time to devote to working out, many people include both cardio and weights in the same exercise session. This concurrent training comes with plenty of benefits for your health, including lowering your cardiovascular and metabolic risks.

In fact, doing both forms of exercise together is better, especially for people with chronic disease risk factors, than exercising for the same amount of time but sticking with just aerobic or resistance exercise.

Studies of concurrent training suggest a generalized training effect – similar improvements in aerobic capacity and muscular strength, regardless of the order of aerobic and resistance exercises in a session. These benefits hold for a wide variety of people , including those who are initially inactive, recreationally active, young people and older women and men.

Resistance exercise done before aerobic exercise results in a small increase in lower-body muscular strength without compromising all the other improvements in health-related physical fitness.

So if your exercise goals are along the lines of staying generally healthy and enjoying the mental benefits of moving your body , resistance training first might provide a little boost. Research suggests that overall, though, you don’t need to worry too much about which order to focus on – cardio versus weights.

Training with performance goals in mind

On the other hand, you may want be more thoughtful about the order of your workout if you’re a performance-oriented athlete who is training to get better at a particular sport or prepare for a competition.

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Research suggests that for these exercisers, concurrent training may slightly inhibit improvement in aerobic capacity. More likely, it can hinder gains in muscular strength and power development, and to a lesser degree muscle growth. This phenomenon is called the “ interference effect .” It shows up most in well-trained athletes undertaking high volumes of both aerobic and resistance exercise.

Researchers are still investigating what happens on a cellular level to cause the interference effect. Aerobic and resistance training unleash competing influences at the molecular level that affect genetic signaling and protein synthesis. At the start of an exercise program, the body’s adaptations are more generalized. But with more training, the muscle changes become more and more specific to the kind of work being done, and the likelihood of the interference effect kicking in increases.

Of course, many sports require combinations of aerobic and muscular capabilities. Some elite-level athletes need to improve both. So the question remains: What is the optimal order of the two modes of exercise to get the best performance effects?

Given research findings about concurrent training for high-level athletes , it makes sense to do resistance exercise first or to train first in the type of exercise that is most important to your performance goals. Additionally, if possible, elite athletes should give their bodies a break of at least three hours between resistance and aerobic training sessions.

Don’t sweat the order

In my lab, we’re studying what we call “microcycles” of aerobic and resistance exercise. Instead of needing to decide which to do first, you weave the two modalities together in much shorter bursts. For instance, one set of a resistance exercise is immediately followed by three minutes of walking or running; you repeat this cycle for as many times as necessary to include all of the resistance exercises in your routine.

Our preliminary findings suggest this method of concurrent training results in similar gains in aerobic fitness, muscular strength and lean muscle mass – while also feeling less challenging – when compared with the typical concurrent routine where all of the resistance exercise is followed by all of the aerobic exercise.

For most people, my current advice remains to choose the order of exercise based on your personal preferences and what will keep you coming back to the gym. High-level athletes can avoid any significant interference effect by doing their resistance routine before the aerobic routine or by separating their aerobic and resistance workouts within a particular day.

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Trump Doesn't Need a Criminal Conviction for Ballot Removal, According to Research on 14th Amendment

The former president was previously charged on four federal felony counts for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results., jordan liles, published dec 29, 2023.

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On Dec. 28, 2023, a user on X made a post falsely claiming that a reading of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution showed that former U.S. President Donald Trump would need to be convicted of insurrection in order to be removed from the ballot for the 2024 election.

A rumor said that the 14th Amendment requires former US President Donald Trump to receive a criminal conviction in order to be removed from the 2024 election ballot.

The post in question read as follows:

In order to be removed from the ballot under the 14th amendment, there needs to be a CRIMINAL conviction for the crime of insurrection. That has never happened. Therefore, you cannot remove Trump from the ballot under the 14th amendment. Continuously saying the opposite of that makes you sound like a person who never stopped eating paste when you left kindergarten.

The user's post and its incorrect information ended with a last line that apparently remarked about users who post incorrect information.

The data in the post did not square with a reading of the 14th Amendment or the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service's (CRS) study of the text.

What Is This About?

Trump was indicted on Aug. 1 on four felony conspiracy counts in special counsel Jack Smith's 2020 election interference case. In a statement delivered on the same day, Smith called the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021 "an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy."

"As described in the indictment, it was fueled by lies," Smith continued. "Lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government, the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election."

On Dec. 19, the Colorado Supreme Court declared Trump would be removed from the state's ballot, citing a clause in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Nine days later, Maine’s Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows also removed Trump from the state's primary ballot, citing the same clause.

What Does the 14th Amendment Say?

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment reads as follows:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

When Was the 14th Amendment Enacted?

Findings published by the CRS, that also were cited in similar reporting by NBC News , laid out more information about the history of Section 3:

Enacted in the aftermath of the Civil War, Section 3 seems specifically designed for the Reconstruction Era but may be applicable to modern times as well. Section 3 was for the most part used only for the short period between its ratification and the 1872 enactment of the Amnesty Act . The Amnesty Act removed the disqualification from most Confederates and their sympathizers and was enacted by a two-thirds majority of Congress in accordance with the terms of Section 3. Some argue the Amnesty Act operates retrospectively . In a recent case, Cawthorn v. Amalfi , discussed in this Legal Sidebar , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that the act does not apply to later insurrections or treasonous acts.

Is a Criminal Conviction Needed for Ballot Removal?

The report from the CRS specified, "Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment does not expressly require a criminal conviction, and historically , one was not necessary."

Further, the report laid out the history of the usage of Section 3:

Reconstruction Era federal prosecutors brought civil actions in court to oust officials linked to the Confederacy, and Congress in some cases took action to refuse to seat Members. Congress last used Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1919 to refuse to seat a socialist Congressman accused of having given aid and comfort to Germany during the First World War, irrespective of the Amnesty Act. The Congressman, Victor Berger , was eventually seated at a subsequent Congress after the Supreme Court threw out his espionage conviction for judicial bias.

“Amdt14.S3.1 Overview of Disqualification Clause.” Constitution Annotated , https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/essay/amdt14-S3-1/ALDE_00000848/.

Elsea, Jennifer K. “The Insurrection Bar to Office: Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Congressional Research Service , 2022, crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10569.

Gregorian, Dareh, and Ryan J. Reilly. “Special Counsel Charges Trump with Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S.” NBC News , 2 Aug. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-indicted-jan-6-grand-jury-2020-election-rcna95199.

Lynch, Myles. “Disloyalty & Disqualification: Reconstructing Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.” SSRN , 13 Dec. 2020, papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3749407.

Riccardi, Nicholas. “Colorado Supreme Court Declares Donald Trump Is Ineligible for the White House.” The Associated Press , 19 Dec. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/trump-insurrection-14th-amendment-2024-colorado-d16dd8f354eeaf450558378c65fd79a2.

Riccardi, Nicholas, and David Sharp. “Maine Bars Trump from Ballot as US Supreme Court Weighs States’ Authority to Block Former President.” The Associated Press , 28 Dec. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/maine-trump-presidential-ballot-election-insurrection-081fd38ce1f20be9b8423cb2f8c66dee.

Shabad, Rebecca. “What Is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment?” NBC News , 20 Dec. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/trump-14-amendment-section-3-explained-colorado-ballot-ruling-rcna130581.

“Special Counsel Jack Smith Delivers Statement.” United States Department of Justice , Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Office, 1 Aug. 2023, https://www.justice.gov/sco-smith/speech/special-counsel-jack-smith-delivers-statement-0.

Watson, Kathryn, et al. “Trump Indicted by Grand Jury in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 Investigation - CBS News.” CBS News , 2 Aug. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-indicted-grand-jury-jan-6/.

By Jordan Liles

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.

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    [1] For example, if you're researching in the political science field, you might be interested in determining what leads people to believe that the 2020 US presidential election was illegitimate. Write down any sub-questions that you need to research before you can adequately formulate your research question. [2]

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    Chapter 1: Finding a Topic, Finding Sources, and Critically Reading Appropriate Articles Chapter 2: How to Write a Literature Review Chapter 3: After the Literature Review: Theory→ Hypothesis → Design → Analysis → Results→Interpretation Chapter 4: Ethics of Research Part II: Collecting Data—Research Designs and Tools Chapter 5: Qualitative Research

  8. How to Do Research

    This new edition of Nick Moore's highly successful "How to do Research" offers an accessible guide to the complete research process. It focuses on the day-to-day requirements of project, managing a piece of research right through from the formulation of the initial idea, to the development of a research proposal and then to the writing up and disseminating of results.

  9. How to Do Research: and How to Be a Researcher

    Having set out what research hopes to achieve, and why we are all researchers at heart, early chapters describe the basic principles underlying this—ways of thinking which may date back to the philosophers of the Athenian marketplace but are still powerful influences on the way research is carried out today.

  10. How to Write a Research Paper

    Create a research paper outline. Write a first draft of the research paper. Write the introduction. Write a compelling body of text. Write the conclusion. The second draft. The revision process. Research paper checklist. Free lecture slides.

  11. How to Do Research: A Step-By-Step Guide: Get Started

    Step 1. Develop a topic Select a Topic | Develop Research Questions | Identify Keywords | Find Background Information | Refine a Topic Step 2. Locate information Search Strategies | Books | eBooks | Articles | Videos & Images | Databases | Websites | Grey Literature Step 3. Evaluate and analyze information

  12. How to Do Research in 7 Simple Steps

    Create your paper or presentation

  13. What Is Research, and Why Do People Do It?

    Abstractspiepr Abs1. Every day people do research as they gather information to learn about something of interest. In the scientific world, however, research means something different than simply gathering information. Scientific research is characterized by its careful planning and observing, by its relentless efforts to understand and explain ...

  14. How to Do Research for an Excellent Essay: The Complete Guide

    Allow enough time. First and foremost, it's vital to allow enough time for your research. For this reason, don't leave your essay until the last minute. If you start writing without having done adequate research, it will almost certainly show in your essay's lack of quality. The amount of research time needed will vary according to ...

  15. A basic introduction to research: how not to do research

    Myth 2: You can learn how to do research from a book or journal articles. Most researchers will tell you that some kind of formal training in research methods is an essential basis for a research career, but also that hands-on experience is critical. If you really want an active research career, you will need to consider a higher degree.

  16. What is Research

    What is Research? Research is the careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or research problem using scientific methods. According to the American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie, "research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict, and control the observed phenomenon. It involves inductive and deductive ...

  17. How to Do Academic Research

    "How Teens do Research in the Internet World" (Pew Research Institute) This 2012 Pew study summarizes the challenges high school teachers face when it comes to teaching students about responsible online research. The study's findings serve as a jumping off point for teachers to discuss effective strategies and probable obstacles and constraints.

  18. RESEARCH

    RESEARCH definition: 1. a detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a…. Learn more.

  19. 113 Great Research Paper Topics

    What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic? Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics. #1: It's Something You're Interested In

  20. 7 Reasons Why Research Is Important

    Why Research Is Necessary and Valuable in Our Daily Lives. It's a tool for building knowledge and facilitating learning. It's a means to understand issues and increase public awareness. It helps us succeed in business. It allows us to disprove lies and support truths. It is a means to find, gauge, and seize opportunities.

  21. Rethinking Health Professionals' Motivation to Do Research: A

    Overall, this review provides good evidence for the practicality of EVC and SDT in understanding HPs' motivation to do research. In line with SDT elements, competence is enhanced by prior exposure to research training, and this enhances autonomy and connection with other research active members of the organisation.

  22. How To Do Market Research: Definition, Types, Methods

    Step 4: Conduct the market research. With a system in place, you can start looking for candidates to contribute to your market research. This might include distributing surveys to current customers or recruiting participants who fit a specific profile, for example. Set a time frame for conducting your research.

  23. do a research / make a research

    #1 Hi! I'm a spanish girl. Now I'm doing an english course and I must do a writing for monday. I have a doubt. Which of this two options is correct, "do a research" or "make a research"? Thank you in advance for your help. Gema R rinks New Member India Jul 23, 2004 #2

  24. Uncovering the Mystery of Mastery

    The 7,145 Australian adults in the study were between 40 and 64 years old, and the research team also controlled for such influences on the results as gender, country of birth, education ...

  25. 9 ways to get healthier in 2024 without trying very hard

    Research shows that making art or even viewing it reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases levels of the feel-good hormones, like endorphins and oxytocin. In other words, it can ...

  26. Scientists Explain Why 'Doing Your Own Research' Leads to ...

    In the first experiment of their study, which began in late 2019, some 3,000 people across the US evaluated the accuracy of news articles that had been published in a 48 hour period about topics ...

  27. Cardio or weights first? A kinesiologist explains how to optimize the

    Given research findings about concurrent training for high-level athletes, it makes sense to do resistance exercise first or to train first in the type of exercise that is most important to your ...

  28. Trump Doesn't Need a Criminal Conviction for Ballot Removal, According

    On Dec. 28, 2023, a user on X made a post falsely claiming that a reading of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution showed that former U.S. President Donald Trump would need to be convicted ...

  29. Stock Market Today: Dow, S&P Live Updates for December 27

    December 26, 2023 at 2:35 PM PST. Updated on. December 27, 2023 at 1:24 PM PST. Listen. 6:43. Stocks struggled to find solid ground after approaching a record on speculation the Federal Reserve ...

  30. Shock! Research Shows That Russia's 2016 Campaign Interference ...

    Russia didn't harm America in 2016. Democrats have been on a campaign to do so since that election. And that campaign, unlike the Russian one, has worked. For decades, the liberal media has attacked conservatives and provided cover for democrats and their big-government, pro-abortion, gun-grabbing, culture-destroying allies.