5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Research Skills

Research, we all do it at some point or another.  Whether we’re doing it for a project at work, a paper for school, or just trying to find the best place to go for vacation we all do research and the internet has made it faster and easier than ever.  But with all that information out there it can be overwhelming to look through and disheartening when you can’t find what you need so here’s 5 quick tips to improve your research skills.

1. Multiple Sources

The internet is awash with sources upon sources at your finger tips ready to be used.  Each source will have some information you want but it will also be missing other information.  As you start to look at more and more places you start to see the whole picture and learn things you never would have imagined if you just stopped at one.  If you’re looking for a place to go for vacation don’t just look at Yelp and stop there, try places like Facebook, Google, Expedia, just find as many sources for as much information as possible.

2. Follow the Rabbit Trail

As you find sources they’re inevitably going to link to other places or have the sources they use documented in that bibliography you always hated doing back in middle school.  These are essentially your cheat codes for research.  You did the work to find one source and you’ve just gotten a comprehensive list of more specific sources that you know will be relevant for what you want.  So follow them down, from your first source go to the next which will lead to another list and another and another.  Follow them down the rabbit hole and learn as much as you can.  Wikipedia is spectacular for this, every Wikipedia page has links to other pages as well as a list of sources used to write the page you’re on.

3. Question Everything

Everything out there has a reason behind it but a lot of the time that reason isn’t well documented.  The reason why is also the most important part because once you understand the reason why you’ll finally start to truly understand what you’re looking for.  When you find a piece of information question it, why is this the case, why did it happen this way, what other factors led to this, etc.  Then once you have your questions answer them, it takes more research to do but by answering your questions you’ll understand the bigger picture.  The easiest place to see this is customer reviews.  One and five star reviews are the most polarizing views people can have but there’s always a reason why they gave the rating they did.  A one star review that was given because someone didn’t want to get wet on a log ride vs giving a one star because the ride broke down and flung them off is very different.

4. Trial and Error

Let me just state this plainly, you’re going to be wrong, you won’t get it right, and you are going to fail and that’s OK.  You’re going to go to the wrong places to look or follow the wrong sources from a bibliography it happens all the time.  When this does happen the important thing is to learn from your mistakes so you can be better and faster next time.  Don’t give up because you got it wrong just try again and do it differently.  This is easy when it’s just finding another source but gets a lot harder when your final result is wrong.  Even then don’t give up, learn from your mistake and do it better next time.  If you always get it right there’s no room to learn, embrace failure and learn from it instead.

5. Be Curious

The most important tip of all, if you don’t remember anything from this remember to stay curious.  Doing deep meaningful research takes a lot of time and effort even for something as simple as finding a hotel to go to.  The only way you’ll be willing to put in the time and effort is if you’re curious.  So stay curious out there and embrace learning!