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First and foremost, it’s vital to allow enough time for your research.
You may come across a concept that takes you longer to understand than you’d expected, so it’s better to allow too much time than too little.
If you don’t have a thorough understanding of what the essay question is asking you to do, you put yourself at risk of going in the wrong direction with your research.
If you’ve been given a reading list to work from, be organised in how you work through each of the items on it.
Try to get hold of as many of the books on it as you can before you start, so that you have them all easily to hand, and can refer back to things you’ve read and compare them with other perspectives.
Plan the order in which you’re going to work through them and try to allocate a specific amount of time to each of them; this ensures that you allow enough time to do each of them justice and that focus yourself on making the most of your time with each one.
It’s a good idea to go for the more general resources before honing in on the finer points mentioned in more specialised literature.So take the question, read it several times and pull out the key things it’s asking you to do.The instructions in the question are likely to have some bearing on the nature of your research.Preparing for an essay – by conducting effective research – lays the foundations for a brilliant piece of writing, and it’s every bit as important as the actual writing part.Many students skimp on this crucial stage, or sit in the library not really sure where to start; and it shows in the quality of their essays.If you haven’t been given specific pages to read in the books on your reading list, make use of the index (and/or table of contents) of each book to help you find relevant material.It sounds obvious, but some students don’t think to do this and battle their way through heaps of irrelevant chapters before finding something that will be useful for their essay.Think of an upside-down pyramid and how it starts off wide at the top and becomes gradually narrower; this is the sort of framework you should apply to your research.Library computer databases can be confusing things, and can add an extra layer of stress and complexity to your research if you’re not used to using them.It’s also a gentle way of introducing yourself to the task and putting yourself in the right frame of mind for learning about the topic at hand.If the topic is new to you and your brainstorm has yielded few ideas, you’ll need to acquire a basic understanding of the topic before you begin delving deeper into your research.