Make sure you know how to do academic research for college papers to make your life as a student easier. The research process doesn’t have to be difficult or complex. But, if you follow key steps in your academic research before you begin your research paper, you’ll find the process of academic writing to be far easier. For example, before beginning your academic research, do a quick Google search on the topic. The search results will be a good indicator of how difficult it will be to find scholarly articles to support academic papers.

At Lionel, we’re committed to your academic and professional success. Therefore, we put together an easy to follow checklist as you begin your writing for an academic research project. Follow these steps during your research process. Our support as you work on your education is just one of many reasons why people choose Lionel for their exercise science degree.

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Review Research Paper Requirements

It should go without saying that before you do any academic assignment, you should read the requirements in your syllabus first. You’ll often find guidance on how to write your paper or expectations for the assignment. 

Come Up With A Broad Topic Idea

Your paper should be about something that you’re interested in. This will make the writing process substantially easier. When considering your broad topic idea, you don’t need to identify exactly what your paper will be about. For example, maybe you enjoy HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts. This can be your broad topic that you find something more specific to direct your writing.

Explore Your Topic For Questions

You can do this with your own critical thinking. In our example of HIIT, use your curious mind to come up with some ideas that a researcher may have investigated. For example:

  • What are the best HIIT interval intensities?
  • How does HIIT impact exercise motivation?
  • Does HIIT have a greater caloric burn than steady state cardio?
  • How many times per week should an individual do this type of exercise?
  • How does HIIT impact body composition?
  • What’s the best form of HIIT?

Of course, there are so many more questions you can explore. In fact, a fast way to do this is to look at the “People Also Ask” box when you do a Google search. This can help point you in the right direction. 

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Collect Informal Background Information

To do your academic research, you’ll need to know a little more about your topic. This will help you narrow your focus when combing through a research database. Further, it will help you get more acquainted with the topic if you aren’t already. You can do your search online, looking for easy to read information like newspaper articles, magazine articles, or social media posts. You might also ask some peers or experts in the field. If you stumble upon what looks to be some good scholarly articles, save the link or take note of where you found it for later steps in your research process. 

At this point, you should have an idea of whether the topic and research question will be broad enough for you to write a research paper on or not. You might also find it’s too broad or too narrow. In these cases, refine the direction of your paper before continuing to do your research. This also is an ideal time to connect with your professor and get feedback on whether it’s a good idea for your research paper or not. Once you feel confident in the direction you’re headed, move to the next step.

Make A Plan For Obtaining Academic Resources

You now know enough about your topic to begin evaluating sources. Develop a system of organization for your research. This can be as easy as keeping a spreadsheet that includes the type of research, where you’ll find it (Google Scholar, university library, etc.), full citation, a summary of the topic, and notes. Getting organized before you do the research will help you with time management and research efficiency.

Once you have a system to organize your research, you should prioritize it. For example, conducting your free, online research first will be the fastest. Then, you can fill in the research gaps with more specific searches at a library or other research database you might have limited access to. Then, use your time management skills to plan your schedule and include adequate time to complete your research.

Evaluating Resources

Not all academic resources are equal. Therefore, you should spend some time evaluating resources. However, as you look at the different resources available to you, make sure you take notes on everything, even if you think you won’t need the reference. This helps to cover you in the event you decide to use the source. And it prevents wasted time from accidentally reading the same research over again. Make sure you include the full citation, and in preferred form (APA, MLA, etc.). This will save you time later, so you don’t have to go back and fill it in after your writing is complete.

As you evaluate your academic sources, consider: 

  • Publication year–the more recent the better
  • Sample size–make sure there were plenty of subjects participating in the study 
  • Researcher background–make sure the researcher is an expert in the field and in conducting research 
  • Bias or conflicts of interest–make sure there are no conflicts of interest or biases that could influence the outcome of the study

There may be other restrictions or requirements your professor is looking for in your research paper. Therefore, before you continue to the next step, refer once more to the syllabus and assignment details to make sure you aren’t missing anything and can keep proceeding forward with your work on the research project.

Draft An Outline Of Your Paper

You aren’t writing just yet. But, you need to directionally know what your paper is going to look like. Again, this will save you time in the future. Consider getting your topic sentence down and evaluate how you will sequence through all the information. Take this time to do a mental gap analysis. Is there any outstanding research you need to complete the assignment? Are all bases covered? When you sit down to begin writing your paper, you don’t want to have to do any additional research work. You’ll want to have all the answers in one place, so you can direct your focus to create a compelling and well-written research paper. If there are any gaps, go back and collect additional resources, following these steps in an abbreviated manner.

At this point, you should have what you need to begin writing your paper. Knowing how to do academic research in higher education doesn’t require you to have a research background. Instead, you just need to break down the steps, like we have here. You’ll learn more about the topic as you go, without having to stop and learn something completely foreign. 

At Lionel University, we’re committed to your academic success and professional fitness future. We’ll give you study tips for going through your courses, help with time management for college students, assistance with stress management, and more.

Contact us today for more information!

When you get a degree in exercise science from Lionel University, you’ve got an entire team invested in the success of your academic studies and professional future.  Therefore, we’re here to help! Regardless of what degree program you’re in (associate's degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree), we’re here to make sure you get your dream job.