5 Basic Research Skills You Need for Distance Learning

Sep 23, 2013 | 4:00 am
Academic Resources
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Deciding to get your high school diploma online is a big step. While it may be easier than ever to graduate high school, you still need to have some basic skills to make the process go smoothly. One of the most commonly used skills will be your ability to research information. Not only will this help you through getting your diploma, but it will be a lifelong skill you’ll come to appreciate. Luckily, with the internet, most things can be found with a few clicks of a mouse.

When it comes time to research a topic for more information, consider these tips:

Start with Wikipedia
It’s true that not everything you find on Wikipedia will actually be accurate. However, the information presented there will give you a good starting point and a rough overview of your topic. Since many of the statements on Wikipedia have sources referenced, you can also use the site to help you find credible information directly from the source.

Google it!
After reading up on your topic on Wikipedia, you should have picked up any special terms or other words that will help you conduct a broader search for information. Look these up on Google and read up on as much as you can. While you may not use all the information you read, knowing more about the subject matter will allow you to present ideas on the topic in a more cohesive way.

Look up unfamiliar words
When you’re learning a new topic, you’re bound to run into words you are unfamiliar with. If you don’t take the time to learn what they mean, you’ll be missing out on the full understanding of your topic. It can get annoying, but the payoff is that you’ll be able to talk about your subject with more confidence, and you’ll also have a deeper understanding of the subject.

Understand why you are researching your topic
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll end up wasting time looking up things that aren’t relevant to your end goal. Are you researching a topic for an essay or a debate? Is your topic too broad? What specific question are you trying to answer? For instance, if you are writing about the history of shoes, do you need to know how shoes grew from necessity or about inventors of shoes throughout time? Having a clear idea of why you are doing the research will prevent you from spending needless time looking up irrelevant information.

Keep good notes
When you are researching a topic, your goal is to find something that you know will be useful for your project. However, the trap when you are researching online is to just bookmark the website and come back to it later. This can create hours of extra work. Instead, use a note taking app like Evernote and store the url for the website AND the actual text you found relevant. Make sure to include notes as to why you are saving this information. With a note taking app, you can also title your notes, so make sure your titles are clear and that they will help you find the information when you need it later.