Starting Your Research

Facing your first assignment can be a daunting prospect particularly if you haven't been in an academic setting for a while. Relax - the library is here to help. Below are some points to consider and some links to help you get started. If you have any questions or would like further instruction - please contact us here.

Contextualise your research

Academic research is all about critical thinking. Two skills you need when researching: 

  • Capacity to evaluate what you read
  • Capacity to relate what you have read to other information

Do not read academic works as you would fiction. Start by reading the conclusion. Typically the author presents a finding and supports it with evidence. As such make sure you clearly understand what the author claims to have discovered. When you read the rest of the article think critically about whether their points are valid and if the evidence supports the findings. Also consider how the research fit in with other relevant articles.

Criteria to consider when reviewing sources
You are expected to consult multiple sources of information and to show evidence of wide critical reading. In doing so, you need to exercise critical judgement. This means identifying relevant experts and theories and judging the value of their research in relation to your own. Some questions to consider when reading sources of information:

  • Why am I reading this?
  • What is the author trying to argue by writing this?
  • What is the author saying that is relevant to my needs?
  • How convincing is the author's argument?
  • What use can I make of the reading?
  • Does this reading support or contradict my argument?