Essay Writing Guide.
A free guide to Essay UK.
In this section we will introduce you to a selection of procurement techniques that can be used to advance your thinking and develop your ideas.
These techniques can be applied at different stages of the research process and can help you to: identify the topic of your research (the research question) plan a comprehensive search for the structure of the literature and / or conceptualize your collection of personal information.
Knowledge of methods for identifying appropriate research topics. Knowledge of collection techniques to help you develop your ideas. Knowledge of techniques and packages used to manage collections of personal information.
Your research question.
You may need to do some research in the form of a literature review or you may want to identify a topic for a thesis.
Where to start? Here we describe two approaches: “general to specific” and “specific to general”:
From general to specific.
This approach would be useful if you are able to decide your own research question and are starting with a broad area of study.
Gather all relevant information. Use an acquisition technique to divide your study area into smaller interrelated concepts. Create a visual record of this process. Identify any gaps or areas of uncertainty. Create a list of possible research questions.
Specific to general.
This approach would be useful if you have a narrowly defined research question, such as those provided by industry sponsors.
Gather all relevant information Use an acquisition technique to broaden the argument surrounding the original question Create a visual record of this process Identify any gaps or areas of uncertainty Create a list of possible research questions, keeping focus on their original concept .
In both approaches we suggest using visual acquisition and recording techniques.
This is because these techniques are designed to allow the user to see a study area from a global, holistic and non-linear perspective.
Looking at a study area in this way can provide a unique insight, essential to creating an original research question.
There are many obtaining techniques that can be useful.
Try techniques that involve creating a visual record of your study area, as these are particularly good for showing the relationships between different aspects of a subject and for identifying any gaps in your information.
Both mind mapping and brainstorming are useful techniques.
Mind Mapping ™
Mind maps (or concept maps) can be used to help frame a research question, plan an essay or a literature search, or take notes at a meeting.
Maps are a way of representing information in a visual format similar to the way the brain itself maps concepts; that is, in a non-linear and interconnected view.
Mind maps make use of color, images, and symbols to help stimulate memory in the brain.
One way to implement a Mind Map in your research process is to use the map to state what you already know about a particular topic.
The map can then help you identify gaps in your knowledge.
You can also use Mind Maps to plan a literature search – using images as well as search terms could help stimulate other alternative terms or synonyms.
If you write down the Mind Map as your search progresses, you will be able to see how you achieved your end result.
Details of this Mind Mapping application can be found in Sheila Webber’s document “Mapping a path to the empowered searcher”.
The main authority on mind mapping is Tony Buzan.
You may want to read his book, Use Your Head (1989), for more details on how Mind Maps can be used in a variety of situations.
Buzan suggests the following basic rules for creating Mind Maps.
Start with a colored image in the center of your sheet of paper. Use lots of images on your entire sheet of paper. The words on the mind maps must capitalized. Printed words must be on lines and each line must be connected to other lines.
This will give structure to your mind map.
Words should be printed one word per line. Use colors as they help to remember and stimulate creativity. Be as spontaneous as possible. Don’t stop or think about it, it just explodes on paper.
There are several versions of Mind Mapping software available, including Free Mind, which can be downloaded for free.
Please use a relevant search topic for your own research or the suggested search topic below.
You want to find information about the effects of food additives on human health. Develop a mind map to formulate your search strategy.
Start by writing the question in the center of the page.
Then use the branches of the Mind Map as a means to explore the different concepts you will need to use as part of your search.
Brainstorming can be done on your own or within a group.
It could be a useful exercise to do with your supervisor.
The process is the following.
Starting with a single word or concept related to your research topic, record (record, record, video) everything you associate with this word or concept.
There are four practical rules for classical brainstorming (B822, Technical Library).
No criticism: the idea is to postpone the trial until after all the ideas have been gathered Freewheel: ideas should be uninhibited, anything goes Quantity is important: the more ideas, the better Hitch-hike: build on other people’s ideas already that this encourages collaboration and improvement of ideas. When you have run out of ideas you can try creating a relationship diagram for the subject. The Enchanted Learning website provides an overview of the various types of organization charts.
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Brainstorming example 1.
Ask reflection group members to individually write their ideas on Post-it notes or cards. Be sure to write a single concept on each card or Post-it. Spend no more than 5-10 minutes on this task. At the end of this time, collect the cards / Post-its to examine the groupings or trends.
As a group, they can vote for their “main” concepts by putting color dots on their three main themes.
They could classify the topics according to the number of points: for example, 1st = 3 points, 2nd = 2 points and 3rd = 1 point.
This system will help you focus your research and set priorities.
Brainstorming example 2.
Using a random word or image as a stimulus during brainstorming can be a good way to generate new ideas.
Choose a word or image at random; for example, an animal or an object Ask participants to brainstorm the word or image and record their ideas. From this initial brainstorm, try to match the words and ideas to your topic. This type of brainstorming may seem strange, but it’s amazing how well it works, as it makes you think about it in a new light and helps foster innovation.
Collection of personal information.
During your research you will collect large amounts of information.
In “Information Literacy Education for PhD Students” (Pilerot, 2004), doctoral students described how difficult it was to conceptualize, organize, structure, and generally manage their research information.
Elucidation techniques can help conceptualize and then add structure to your personal collection of information.
For example, you could try brainstorming and use the results to create meaningful categories with which to organize the collection of personal information.
Bibliographic software packages and desktop search engines can also help you organize your collection of information.
Bibliographic software packages.
Bibliographic software can be used to classify references, annotate them, manage citations or create reading lists.
There are several software packages on the market.
Some are listed below.
Bib Tex End Note Pro cite Reference Manager Reworks.
Use of bibliographic software.
Bibliographic software It can be used for more than just storing and displaying references.
If you spend some time learning the functionality of the package you have, it will be more useful.
Consider entering relevant citations in the notes field.
You may want to have multiple entries for an article, one for each quote that interests you.
By also adding keywords on the topic, you can sort your database to identify useful quotes on a specific topic.
It pays to keep a list of the terms you use, so that you can be consistent about how you apply them.
You can also use the notes field to add your comments about a particular reference, which could help you assess its usefulness for future research you may be conducting.
To view this information in a printed bibliography, you may have to choose the correct bibliographic style, or even alter an existing bibliographic style.
Instructions on how to do this will vary according to the bibliographic package