With your topic narrowed down and focused and your research questions developed, you are ready to dive into the bulk of your research; first, create a research plan, and develop a research strategy. Your strategy should involve answering three questions to shape your research, creating a plan timetable, preliminary outline and research log.
To answer this research strategy question, you must take the following into consideration:
Most likely, there are a minimum number of sources you are required to use, but if not, you can determine that based off other particulars of the assignment.
The types of sources are primarily determined by your instructor and the assignment itself, but if you are granted some leeway on topic and source selection, consider these types of sources:
Your instructor may specifically require certain types of research materials or may restrict your use of others. Make sure you understand what is and is not permitted.
Once you have asked the three research strategy questions, establish a timeline. The biggest consideration is the due date of your research paper. This sets the pace for how quickly you conduct research to continue working through the research writing process. Use these guidelines when creating a timeline:
Once you have established a timeline, create a preliminary outline. Think about and decide on the main points you intend to cover and which answer your research question(s). Take those points, and organize them in a loose order. Nothing is set in stone at this point. In fact, your preliminary outline is likely to change many times, but at the beginning it helps you keep your research structured and focused.
Keep a log of your research in a journal
With a preliminary outline in hand, you are ready to start researching. As you do so, start and keep a research log. Any spiral notebook or journal-style notebook is suitable. Index cards or files on your computer work just as well, too. This step of structured research corresponds with your note-taking methods and strategies. However, in addition to the information you record while note-taking, you also want to keep a record of the following:
As you work through sources of information, remember to evaluate sources as an ongoing process. If you follow the research plan you put in place, you are more likely to conduct thorough, structured research that only strengthens your paper.