Research can be daunting in the early stages. A research strategy is a plan to thoughtfully approach your research and provide direction and guidance to keep your project productive.
These basic tips will help you create a research strategy:
- Narrow down your topic. Most researchers start with a broad topic—for example, pioneers. Research on pioneers can become overwhelming with the vast amounts of information available. Think about what you really want to know about the pioneers, and create more specific sub-questions to guide your research. Do you want to know about a location on the trail? Perhaps you are interested in a certain company or individual? It’s OK if these questions change as you begin your research.
- Be open to alternative answers. A good researcher never starts with an answer and works backward. Set aside assumptions. You may miss valuable insight if you are trying to find evidence to support what you think instead of letting the evidence guide your questions and further research.
- Write down information you know. Use the sources you have to identify information you might already know about your topic and sub-questions. You can capture known information chronologically and create a time line, or you can simply list valuable facts, quotations, and other data. This organizational step will help you find the gaps in your research and guide you to the most useful material.
- Identify the best resources to answer your questions. This is where the library becomes a useful tool in the research process. Use the catalog, databases, and research guides to find important information and documentation. The library staff can provide professional guidance to help you find library collections and other tools that will assist you in your research.
Contact a Church history consultant for assistance creating a research strategy for your project. More guided online research assistance is coming soon. The library is constantly developing more ways to help you find the information you need.