Research Tips and Tricks


Tips for getting started ... and getting finished!

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F

Form a Research Community

The people enrolled in this training program are your research community, and they are one of your most valuable resources. Think about forming a writing group with some members of this community - people with whom you can swap ideas, who will proofread your work, and who will keep you motivated. Or join the Shut Up and Write! group run by ReDTrain! The members of your writing group don't have to be in the same discipline area as you - in fact, it's often better if they are not, because that way you get the ideal reader of your work: the educated reader, someone who can understand what you are talking about, but isn't necessarily familiar with your field. Make it your mission to follow up with someone who you think might work well in this way for you.


G

Get to Know Your Librarian

You can contact USQ librarians via email, chat, on the phone or in person. They are very approachable and can make your research journey a less bumpy one if you contact them when you have questions about finding information, setting up alerts, using EndNote, managing your research data, choosing where to publish, or myriad other questions!


Q

Quick Start Techniques

It is usually not feasible to wait for an entire day in which you have nothing to do but write. In order to make the most of the time you have available, try using quick start techniques. For example, once you've finished a section or a paragraph, write the first sentence of the next one, or jot down clear notes about what you want to say next. That way, you'll be able to pick up right where you left off, instead of wasting time trying to remember what you were thinking about!


R

Research Journal

Keep a research journal. In it, you can record things like the terms you used to search a particular database, and when. You can record details of texts you need to find, or a technique you need to understand. You can make notes about what you are reading, and try to work through ideas. You can record the outcomes of your day's research, and reflect on what went well, and how you could improve for the next day. In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron advocates beginning every day by free writing three pages in your journal - it can be whatever you want (not necessarily about research or your project). The aim is to pump out all the rubbish and preoccupations in your mind so that you can get to the good stuff - give it a try and let us know how it works for you!


W

Write Every Day

Yes - every single day (unless you have specifically scheduled a day off - that is a good idea too!). Not everything you write has to be, or will be, perfect. Don't worry about that. However, you do need to write this regularly in order for your work to get as close as it can be to being the best work you can produce. Train yourself. You wouldn't turn up to run a marathon without training, and nor do you expect that you can run your best time the first time you try. In the same way, you need to train your mind to concentrate and write extended pieces of work.

In Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks, Laura Wendy Belcher suggests writing for fifteen minutes per day. You might also try aiming for a word count - around 500 words per day is usually a good balance between making progress and not exhausting yourself (because you need to be able to do it again the next day!). 500 words per day is 182 500 words per year! Imagine how productive and prolific you can be if you're sticking to this!