Research Experience

My process for doing academic research has changed since the beginning of the semester. Before, I would complete research by finding sources which met my resource criteria, analyze them, and then input pieces of the sources into my own research and come up with my own findings. Now, however, I have learned to use others’ research better by collecting several sources within the same topic and questioning what the sources have in common, and what they do not have in common. This way, I can create common-ground between the sources and understand what information is there and is able to be spoken on, and what information isn’t entirely there which can’t be covered. When I cannot find information from the sources for my research, I will search for other sources which cover the topic at hand more specifically.

My process for evaluating and selecting sources begins with narrowing down the topic in question and seeing if the sources I have chosen address that topic well, either broadly or specifically. I decided which sources to use in my research paper by comparing and contrasting them with my research question, and seeing if parts of each source could be used applicably. I added sources and removed sources several times, because often times I would think I had a good source, and then found one that was better.

Some challenges I encountered when doing research for SOC345 was finding applicable sources in general. Often times, some sources would cover only a small portion of what I was trying to research, so I often had to search further for more in-depth sources. Some strategies I used to combat this like I said were: comparing and contrasting, and analyzing the sources in completion.

Overall, my attitude and confidence about doing research has changed throughout the semester. Before, I was not very confident on my skill of analyzing research and therefore conducting it. However, because of Dr. Pederson and SOC345, I have learned how to properly find correct sources, how to format correctly, and how to implement them into research, as well as how to use programs which can facilitate research. A good example of a program which facilitated my research that I learned was rStudio cloud.

What “Think Like a Researcher” means to me: Before, I thought doing research was simply finding information about your topic, and implementing it into your final draft of your essay or paper. Now, however, I realize it takes a lot more time and effort than that. You have to think about the big picture as well as the short-term picture at the same time. You have to think about: Does my source accurately cover my topic?, Does my source have the information necessary to be used in my own research?. I now know I must analyze my sources much more heavily than before and that I should be picky with them, because I want my research to be as good as possible, especially when I am presenting it.