I’ve always liked the Study Skills series by Palgrave Macmillan – I’ve recommended a number of their titles to students and I’ve had the library stock a number of these prior to the start of the academic year.
‘Doing Research’ by Gary Thomas is a great example of a study skills book that gets straight to the point.
The book is quite small, with just under 100 pages, split into six parts. The book will give you just enough information about the building blocks of research, the bread and butter components to get you up and running.
Part one discusses the planning of your research, what is research, where to start and the process of setting timescales for your project. Part one also discusses some of the challenges of refining your research question, and some great tips on how you can take a broad idea to a more precise question.
Part two discusses the literature review, with some practical advise on how to approach it, key resources and what the literature review is really about. I recommend looking at ‘Getting Critical’ in the same series, by Kate Williams alongside this section.
Part three discusses scaffolding of your research, including Action research, case studies, ethnography, experiments and surveys.
Part four discusses ‘fieldwork’ and how you ‘find the data’. In this section there is information on interviews, diaries, questionnaires, observation and statistics.
Part five discusses how the researcher could analyse the data, exploring quantitive and qualitative methods, aka numbers and words.
The final section discusses approaches to writing up your research and explores the choice of a title, writing your abstract, general writing and presentations.
So there you have it, a little book about ‘doing research’. Its a great starting point and you can get through it quite quickly, so its perfect for a short commute or just to have on your desk, to remind your self why you’re doing it.