You may have everything with your academic research project down to a tee, but there are always more ways than one to get better at something.
In fact, staying with the usual ways because “they already work” can be detrimental, especially if you find yourself at a roadblock in your project. If you do find yourself in this situation, it’s time that you add a little more to your research arsenal.
Here are 5 techniques that can help you with your research project and impress your professors:
1. Conduct group study sessions with agenda and minutes
Group study sessions are a great method to facilitate discussion and acquire insights that may otherwise be more difficult to attain alone. The most effective way of conducting group study sessions is to do it systematically. While some individuals may be more inclined to a free-flow discussion, adding structure ensures that the discussion has a clear direction, which is vital to a successful academic research project.
You can do this by treating group study sessions as meetings, which means having two essential factors:
- Clearly set agenda. What topics will the group study session cover? What are the objectives of the session?
- Meeting minutes. A point-by-point summary of the meeting can help identify the agenda for future meetings.
These factors can significantly improve the effectiveness of your group study sessions by providing a clear path of progression. The meeting minutes are especially crucial in picking up where you left off from the previous session, which is important in ensuring that you don’t repeat discussing the same topics.
Creating the meeting minutes involves recording the discussion and having someone in the group list down the salient points, preferably in a concise, bulleted format. However, if you plan to have multiple sessions, this process can be slow. Instead of creating the meeting minutes yourself, you may want to buy a meeting minutes service from a transcription provider like TranscriptionWing to expedite your research process.
2. Find your respondents among professors and students
A common challenge in sampling for data is finding a demographic that you can easily access. Sometimes, your desired demographics may either be too scarce or far away for you to utilize. Thankfully, there is a source of respondents that ticks all the boxes: students and professors on campus.
It’s typical for universities to be a boiling pot of various types of individuals, so you should be able to find a sufficient sampling size among people in the university. Of course, this depends on the parameters of your research. Just take note that, most likely, many of the students that you have access to are young adults.
If the students and professors in your university fit the bill for your sampling, great! Here are some examples of how you can use them as your respondents for your qualitative research methods:
- Observations. Make inferences from student behavior during specific interactions
- Surveys. Ask a set of predetermined questions that correlate with your research
- In-depth interviews. Choose a tight group of respondents who are highly qualified or knowledgeable on the topic you will discuss
3. Record, transcribe, and annotate lectures
Succeeding in your research project requires you to utilize every resource at your disposal. Usually, you find those resources by extensively searching online or in the library. However, one source you should never sleep on is your professor’s lectures. Their discussions set much of the groundwork for your research projects and can help set the direction of your analysis.
Thus, you have to find a way to record and store a copy of your professor’s lectures. Nowadays, the two most common methods are taking down notes or recording the lesson. However, there’s a third option that combines the best of both worlds: transcription.
Transcribing lectures involves recording the lesson and converting the resulting audio into written text. Besides easier text navigation and accessibility, transcripts allow you to place annotations, comments, or notes on the side. This further enriches everyone’s understanding of the lesson and how it can be applied to the academic research project.
Thus, the ideal process would be:
- Record the lesson
- Transcribe the lecture audio
- Place annotations on a shareable copy of the transcript
Here are some tips for how you can take this process a step further:
- Try to sit as close to the professor as possible so your recorder can pick up their discussion
- In case of recording difficulties or problems, assign more than one member of your group to record the discussion
- Take turns among your team members in transcribing the lecture recording. Ideally, one should make the transcription for each lecture, while the rest gathers notes to annotate the transcript
Just one problem: the transcription process can be painstakingly slow. You may already have a lot on your plate in terms of your studies and your research. The last thing you need is an extra task that is relatively minor compared to your actual responsibilities. At the same time, however, the benefits of transcription cannot be denied. Thus, if you want to reap the benefits of transcription without the risk of wasting time or energy, consider ordering a rush transcription from a transcription service like TranscriptionWing.
4. Use focus group software for a larger potential demographic
One of the most effective qualitative research methods is conducting focus groups to acquire critical insights from a target demographic. However, one of the main disadvantages of this method is that you may be limited to respondents located in the same geographical location as you. Otherwise, you may need to spend a hefty sum on travel fees for both yourself and the respondents. If you’re on a tight budget, this can make focus groups seem like a less attractive option for your research.
Fortunately, it’s now possible to conduct focus groups remotely through facility video streaming solutions. Instead of traveling to a similar location, you can set up a focus group facility where your respondents will have the discussion. Live-streaming video equipment can be ready to capture each respondent as they speak, and you can moderate the discussion remotely. Plus, some focus group solutions have features like video insights and a project management hub to help you highlight critical moments in the focus group.
Focus group software is especially useful when many of your desired respondents are too far to travel to. Rather than spend time, energy, and resources traveling, you can instead use a focus group streaming solution so you can dedicate your energy to moderating and gathering critical insights from your focus groups.
5. Have online discussions with people from other universities
Internet access adds many layers of depth to academic research as a whole. This access applies not only to books, papers, or journal articles but also to others engaged in your field.
Besides your own university, you can discuss with professors and students in other universities online to gain more information on your research project. This gives you a wider range of perspectives to look at your topic and helps you figure out how you can approach your research problem from a different angle.
Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Directly contacting professors via email to talk about the subject matter
- Networking with students and professors on social media platforms like LinkedIn
- Attending webinars on a topic related to your program
- Discussing your topic on forums such as Reddit
These techniques will help you break the ice with your research and find your next critical insight. Of course, techniques alone are not enough — you need the proper equipment as well for best results. Transcription, for instance, is a fantastic technique that is unfortunately tedious to do in the long run. If you want to enjoy the advantages of transcription without interrupting your workflow, consider using transcribing services like TranscriptionWing which are equipped with features to help you throughout your academic career.