Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.12. Conduct basic research and analyse and present findings

ryanrori January 24, 2021

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A big part of what you’ll do during your studies is to collect information from a number of different sources, such as those mentioned in the previous sections. 

In some cases, the information may be easy to find, such as in organisational and legal documentation. In other cases (probably the majority of cases), the information is “hidden” in a number of different sources, such as newspaper articles, professional journals, hallway conversations and even in the minds of subject matter experts and private individuals and you will need to delve deep to get it. 

We call the process of collecting and information in a systematic way to increase understanding of a particular topic research.

Identify the appropriate / relevant topic and scope

Your first step is to define the topic that you want to research. You do this by writing a statement or question that clearly identifies the topic; for example, “Why are road accidents on the increase in South Africa?”

Once you have written your problem statement, you need to identify and define the key words. In our example above, the key words would be “road accidents”, “increase” and “South Africa”. You now have the topic and the scope, as you are going to research what is meant by road accidents, by how much they have increased over a defined period and you are going to limit your research to South Africa. You can even create a mind map of the keywords to focus your thinking and as you collect new information, you can add to the mind map. 

Plan and sequence research steps

There are six main research skills necessary to becoming a successful researcher. Each skill is broken down into several detailed steps that you can follow while researching a particular topic. The six main skills are:

1. Define the task/topic 

a. Define the problem 

  1. Write a statement or question that clearly identifies the problem. 
  2. Identify and define key words. 
  3. Create a mind map of the key words. 

b. Identify the information requirements of the problem 

  1. Acceptable Resources: How many? Types? How current? 
  2. List tasks in order and create a schedule for accomplishing them. 

2. Information-seeking strategies 

a. Determine the range of possible sources 

  1. Make a list of resources that you know about and can use for the assignment. 
  2. Ask another person or group for other sources you may not know about. 

b. Determine priorities 

  1. Select the resources on your list that will give the best information for the assignment. 
  2. Develop a priority listing of these selected resources based on importance to the assignment and their availability.

3. Location and access 

a. Locate the sources 

  1. Identify the sources in your work and home environments (i.e. textbooks, magazines, encyclopaedias, Internet). 
  2. Find additional sources in the organisation or public libraries. 
    • Use the electronic catalogue to determine the location of each source and whether or not it is available. 
    • Write down the location number for each source. 
    • Use the library map to determine the physical location of each source. 
    • Go to the location of each source in the library. 

b. Finding information within the sources 

  1. Use the Table of Contents, Glossary, and Index to locate specific information within each source. 
  2. Browse the shelves for your topic’s location number to locate other sources on your topic. 
  3. For electronic sources: conduct subject and word searches to locate the specific information you need. 

4. Use of information

 a. Engaging the information in a source 

  1. Read, hear, or view the information in a source. 
  2. Identify the main ideas, key words, dates, names, etc. that will be important for note taking. 
  3. Evaluate the information for reliability and usefulness. 

b. Extracting information from a source 

  1. There are many approaches to extracting information from a source. 
  2. If the source is written material, the Photocopy/Highlight note-taking method can be used. 
  3. When using other types of materials like audiotapes and videotapes, listen to or watch the whole presentation first. Next, listen to or view the presentation again, stopping to write down important information. 
  4. For electronic sources of information, download appropriate files. 
  5. Write down bibliographic information for the sources you use. 

5. Synthesis 

a. Organising information from multiple sources 

  1. Put note cards (from multiple sources) in logical order. 
  2. Develop an outline (storyboard, script, etc.) for the topic. 
  3. Write a bibliography and include it in your project. It is always important to tell where you got the information you used. 

b. Presenting information 

  1. Choose the best way to present the information. 
  2. Allow enough time to do a good job. 
  3. Pay close attention to details (e.g. neatness, spelling, etc.) These things can make or break a presentation.

6. Evaluation 

a. Judging the product 

  1. Decide whether or not the assignment is fully completed. 
  2. Decide if it meets the criteria set up for the assignment.