How to Do Effective Academic Research

Posted by Pat Delorean
A pile of books for academic research

Any paper that you need to complete for your classes requires conducting academic research. You have probably done it a hundred times, but are you sure that you use the most effective tools and methods? Here are a few tips on how you can boost your effectiveness and save time when doing your academic research.

Understand Your Topic

First things first – choose a topic that you will write about. Many professors and teachers allow their students to choose any topic of their preference, but sometimes you are assigned a topic that you need to work with. In this case, you don’t have much freedom to pick what you are interested in writing about. However, assigned topics are usually pretty easy to find information for, so you don’t need to panic.

What you need to do next is make sure that you understand your topic and the type of content that you are expected to provide. Some students rush when it comes to writing a paper, starting it just a few hours before the deadline, and creating papers that don’t answer the research question in full.

Make sure you focus your paper not only on the object of your research but also on the specifics of the topic (i.e., limitations, comparison, principles, correlations, etc.).

Gather Sources

Once you start searching for the needed information, you should organize the process so that you will not miss anything. There are a few places where you can find the information that you need, such as:

  1. Web-search. There are a lot of sources on the Internet that you can use to write your papers. Make sure you use credible sources and cite them correctly in your work. For example, you can use online databases with hundreds of articles, reviews, and works that contain useful information from previous research in the field.
  2. Library. This is the most obvious place to search for information for your work. However, it might not be as convenient as using your laptop to Google some articles. Make sure you visit the website of the library of your learning institution before you go there as they might provide some online books, catalogs, and directories – you might save a lot of time.
  3. Field studies. Interviews, experiments, and observations are also a great part of the research that many students conduct through their study years. It might take a lot of time to gather all the data that you need and even more time to interpret the results correctly. Make sure you find some related studies that already exist in order to make the right conclusions.

When you know what you need to find and where to look for, you can start organizing the process.

Organize Information

When working with many sources at once, it’s easy to get lost and frustrated. What can really help you in the process of your research is organization. Here are a few tips for you on how you can make your research more effective and easier to navigate through.

  1. Write down all the sites that you visit in the process of your research. With many sites opened and closed, you can forget what exact sites you have already visited and which you didn’t find useful at all. Having a file with all the URLs will reduce the chance of losing some useful information.
  2. Write down the exact words, paragraphs, and pages that you think are a good match to be used in your work.
  3. Categorize your sources according to their usefulness, credibility, and years of publication. The most recent and credible sources are your top priority.
  4. Make sure you create the list of the sources in a correct reference format. Later you will save a lot of time just using this list for your paper without a need to create a new one from scratch.
  5. When using citations and quotations, make sure you are familiar with the rules and guidelines provided by your teacher or professor. Some learning institutions have particular rules regarding citing online sources and websites.


When conducting academic research, it’s important to use only the most credible sources that can provide objective and correct data. It’s also important to avoid bias that can often be found when doing your research through the web. 

If you are not completely sure about the data provided by the source, check it through other sources. Look for some evidence of the claims that you find in various articles and reviews. If you can’t find any, don’t use this source. 

Nowadays, the Internet is full of various information that is not always credible enough to be put in an academic paper. What defines academic research is the ability to filter this information, finding only the right sources, and being able to critically think, analyze, and interpret the data that you find.