Thursday, October 20, 2011

Other Types of Research

Books, journal articles and online databases are the tools that we normally use when doing research. However, there are many other sources of information that can be useful to anyone writing a paper. Here are just a few other options that can be considered.

One lost art of research is using actual hard copies of newspapers as a source for a paper. When I was speaking with a history major, she reminisced on the days that she was stuck in the library sifting through old newspaper articles because they alone provided the information that was useful in her paper. Somehow this form of research has become somewhat of a history artifact in and of itself.

If you’re an education major observing can provide insight when reflecting on strategies that have been learned in the classroom setting. Sitting in on professional meeting can also benefit business majors, administration majors or anyone involved in professional major. When observing, make sure to always take notes, not only on the setting and reactions of those involved in your observation but also on your reactions to the experience.

Along these same lines, interviewing someone with experience within your discipline can provide inside information and expertise. Like observing in a professional setting, conducting an interview should be well planned and executed in a professional manner. When compiling questions to ask, make sure they are leading to the points that you are trying to gain from the encounter. Also be sure to include questions that are also open ended, which can lead to more explanation or deeper conversations. As always, make sure to take detailed notes while conducting the interview. Then when compiling all of your information, make sure to reflect on what you’ve learned and how using the interview is beneficial to your project.

Using questionnaires or surveys can also provide detailed information that will be useful to a paper or project. The focus and design of a survey will depend on what information you’re trying to gather, as well as the characteristics of the group you are surveying. This form of research can provide a wide range of information and could be very useful when drafting a paper based on a gap of information that you’re trying to address.

Though these aren’t the only other forms of research besides books and journal articles, they can provide information research avenues for many projects and your professional development.

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