Pioneer | How To Conduct Research In High School: The Top 6 Resources You Need

How To Conduct Research In High School: The Top 6 Resources You Need

Pioneer > News > How To Conduct Research In High School: The Top 6 Resources You Need

How To Conduct Research In High School: The Top 6 Resources You Need

How To Conduct Research In High School The Top 6 Resources You Need

More than ever, it is sought after for high school students to participate in real research or carry out their own research projects. Compared to doing internships or traditional summer schools, doing research offers greater flexibility in schedule management and freedom to choose the direction.

That said, getting started on a research project, let alone knowing where to get research resources, can be daunting. Fortunately, this article will teach you how to conduct research in high school. In addition, we will share the top 6 resources you need to get started.

Research Projects Begin With This Question: Why Do You Want to Do Research?

The first question you want to ask yourself before getting on the high school research wagon is “Why?”

Why do you want to do the research project?

Many students get into research for all the wrong reasons, which results in them not completing the project and feeling discouraged. This is especially true if you choose a research topic based on whether it sounds cool or it should make me look impressive.

Below are a few reasons to avoid participating in a high school research project.

  1. Research can boost my resume for college application – It should not be the strongest reason to start a research project. This is because research in itself can be a lot. You need to put in extra hours, commitment, and persistence. There are many ways to boost your resume. If this is the main reason to do research, you probably will be pulled to other “boosters” by the time the real research challenges kick in.
  2. Many of my classmates are doing it – Seeing many of your classmates taking part in a research project can pressure you to also get on board. However, you must be clear on your why first.
  3. It is easy to come by – There are so many programs that connect you with Ph.D. candidate mentors. Suddenly, doing “research” is easy, and the result is much more guaranteed. Remember that real research is supposed to be hard, not the other way around.

So, Why Should High School Students Do Research Projects?

A high school research project may be a good fit for you if you want to:

  1. Learn more about a subject you learned in class – Conducting individual or group research on a subject you learned in class is a great way to help you zoom in and build your knowledge on the subject. This could be in any discipline, from STEM to history or literature.
  2. Dive deeper into a topic or subject you’ve been following broadly – This could be a topic you’ve been following out of class, say revolutions in technology or the effects of social media on young people’s view of politics, among other topics.
    Research on a topic you’re curious about will only help you dive deeper and learn more about the subject area.
  3. Explore and decide on a certain research question – There are many research questions with tonnes of information to support the hypothesis. If you have a different hypothesis on a given research question, carrying out your own research will help test your theory and come to a conclusion.
  4. Find an answer to a possible question to research – Different things in your environment may prompt you to ponder over various questions. In this case, working on your own research project is a sure way to get the answers you’re looking for.

Common Misunderstanding About the Research Question

Now that you have decided to conduct a research project in high school, the next common misunderstanding among many students is often finding the research question/topic. Fortunately for you, we’re here to help.

Generally, there are two ways to get to the research question. These are:

  1. Explore your subject area first, then combine your knowledge and understanding of the field with your interest. By doing so, you can develop a research question in a field you’re familiar with and interested in.
    Most students often take this route to get to a research question.
  2. Start with a question you’ve been pondering and learn its subject area. This way, you can look at the question from different angles, zoom, narrow, modify or even change the primitive research question.
    Often than not, you will quickly realize that the original(primitive) question is not the research question after getting deeper into the subject.

How to Develop and Find the Research Question

The goal is to develop an original, valid, and feasible research question. Keep in mind that this part of your research(getting the question) is just as important as the research itself and getting results.

But first,

What is A Research Question?

A research question is an inquiry or sentence defining what you’ll examine in your research project and the expected outcome of interest. It is a question that your research project will answer.

For this reason, you must know how to develop and find the research question. Why? This is the basis of your research paper.

The first step is defining a clear research question. Simple as it may sound, writing a research question can be intimidating, even for experienced researchers.

Research questions could come from:

  • A problem or something interesting around you
  • A paper or journal you’ve read and think there are different ways to look at the question or it wasn’t done well
  • A specific idea that you’d like to build on

Why do you need a well-defined research question?

  1. To clarify the project description.
  2. Define the parametric of your study, e.g., population, and ethics
  3. To explain to your teachers and classmates what your project is really about
  4. To define your expected achievable outcome

As a high school student, exploring your research question from an area of interest is always recommended. This means that instead of basing your research assignment on a subject, say STEM, humanities or social sciences, you want to start with an area that sparks your interest.

For most researchers, developing a research topic right away is almost impossible. So this idea is a misleading statement, if not a misconception.

Formulating a research topic or question requires a lot of knowledge and research. In addition, since this is such an invaluable part of your research process, you want to ensure you do it right.

How Do You Develop and Find A Research Question?

Developing and finding a research question starts with:

i). Master the subject foundations

ii). Dive into the literature reviews

By doing these two steps, high schoolers can find out if a research question or topic is covered or not in previous research. Additionally, you can examine if your question adds any value to the research field. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a different research question from what you originally thought – it happens to many students.

The major advantage of using the above method is that it matches the organic process we use here at Pioneer. We prioritize starting with a student’s interests and then exploring to determine what has been done and what has not.

In so doing, we can know what resources are available for use and how much time a student has to conduct the research, among other determinants. This is one of the reasons why the Pioneer research program is respected, as it is a healthy, organic and exciting process.

Best believe it feels like exploring a part of you you never knew existed!

Top 6 Resources High School Students Need For Conducting Research

top resources high school students need for conducting research

 

Knowing where to get resources for your research paper is very important, whether you’re doing an Independent Research Project (IRP) or working with other students on the project.

Fortunately for you, there are many places to acquire the necessary resources for your research, as you’ll see below.

1. Online Access

We have the internet to thank for making knowledge and information accessible. You can access the vast internet resources necessary for your project with a good internet connection and a laptop or personal computer.

Online access to previous research papers can help you determine the direction in which to tackle your project. In addition, you can access these online resources from the comfort of your home or a library in your school or home area.

2. Google Scholar and Google Books

Google Scholar and Google Books are highly recommended by researchers who’ve done an independent research project or a research program. This is because you can access thousands of research journals and books relevant to your research for free.

In addition to these resources, the Google search engine can serve as a preliminary tool for browsing general information. Occasionally you may be able to find papers or research journals published online for free. It is important to remember that a company’s review article or the information you find on Wikipedia or Reddit is not qualified to include as references for research.

3. Library Database

Think of a library database as a well-organized pool of information that allows you(the user) to access data(information) stored there. Examples of electronic information presented appropriately in a library database include journals, articles, newspapers, magazines, books, and data you’d find in an encyclopedia.

Academic Search Complete is an example of a library database high school students can use to get specific and general information from various disciplines.

Let’s look at examples of information you can access in a library database.

  • Journals – Journals can be defined as a group of articles published by different authors but relating to a specific topic or discipline. Professors write them, researchers, and other experts in a subject.
    Computers & Composition, for example, is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on the intersection and relationship between technology, computers, and composition. The Journal of Bioengineering & Biomedical Science is yet another journal example.
  • Books – Unlike journals, books(also known as monographs) cover a topic or discipline in depth. In addition, since they cover a wide topic, you may find a book written by more than one author, say each chapter written by a different author.
  • Other Media – Besides journals and books, library databases contain other media such as audio recordings, videos, and documentaries. You can also find newspapers, magazines, and even radio interview transcripts. However, this will also depend on the library.
    Additionally, some libraries will provide students with streaming media to watch directly on the library database website. However, be aware that such libraries may not allow you to download any files.

4. Paper Checkers

Paper checkers are a must-have when writing your research paper. In addition to having your project well researched, you want to ensure that it is well written and presented appropriately.

For this reason, experts and research programs advise using paper checkers to ensure that the spelling and punctuation of words in your paper are correct. In addition, these handy software tools come in handy when checking for plagiarism in your work.

There are a lot of paper checkers online, some free and others available on a subscription basis. You want to be cautious when using paper checkers to avoid over-dependence.

5. Newspaper Archives

Newspaper Archives contain digital forms of newspaper pages dating from several years ago. Here, you can find a lot of information relevant to your project, especially past works by researchers in the same field. In addition, you can find problems relating to a topic at a given period and how research has helped improve or provide a solution to the problem.

6. Historical Archives

Historical archives contain firsthand facts and data through letters, reports, photographs, memos, and other primary evidence. By going to a historical archive, you can gather data to help you understand how cultures and institutions have evolved over the years.

Other Important Skills For Your Research Project

research conducted by high school students

 

Taking part in a research project is not only advantageous for your academic credit but also a great chance to learn relevant research skills. These skills, in turn, are useful during your college years and even later on in life.

With that in mind, below are important skills you should learn for your research project.

i). Knowledge of BOOLEAN Operators

BOOLEAN operators and modifiers make it super easy to do your research. For example, you can customize your research by pasting a BOOLEAN string on Google, saying “research program” AND “online” will give you results relating to online research programs.

ii). Evaluating Domain Resources

Another skill you need when working on your project is knowing how to evaluate domain resources. While there’s a lot of information readily available online, remember that some of it could be someone’s personal opinion, a hoax, false information, or satirical.

For this reason, you want to ensure that the resources you reference in your paper are evaluated and acceptable.

iii). Freedom of Information Requests

Freedom of Information Request(FOI) gives you the right to ask public organizations, such as government departments, Publicly-funded museums or hospitals, and health trusts, for the information you’d need regarding your project.

Making an FOI request is super easy and can be done via email or directly. However, there are cases when a public organization may decline to share some information, especially if it is sensitive and shouldn’t be disclosed to members of the public.

iv). Verification Skills and Resources

Once you have come up with a list of sources for your project, you need to verify whether they’re good for your paper. One popular approach used in universities, colleges, and high schools is the CRAP or CRAAP test.

Each mnemonic letter represents a concept relevant to verifying your source information. Therefore, the CRAAP test can be evaluated as follows.

  • Currency: This looks at the timeliness of the information, specifically if it is up-to-date.
  • Relevance: Your source needs to be related and relevant to your topic. So ask yourself how the information fits your topic.
  • Authority: Look who has written the information and see if they’re knowledgeable or experts in that field.
  • Accuracy: Next, you need to verify the accuracy and correctness of the information. The last thing you want is to use falsified information on your paper.
  • Purpose: Finally, you must look into why the information was published. What was the aim or purpose of publishing?

With this test in mind, you are assured that the information you reference in your project paper is true and relevant to your topic.

v). Understanding Plagiarism

Understanding plagiarism is key when working on a research project. This is because there are many sources you could borrow from to build up or support your project. However, you want to avoid using another author’s ideas or words, accidentally or intentionally, in your work without acknowledging them.

vi). Citation Selections

Citation is how you refer to published or unpublished works mentioned in your paper. Different citation styles are used, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago.

Each citation style varies. Often you will find that the APA style is preferable for Scientific and Technical research while MLA is more suitable for Humanities projects. Additionally, Chicago is used for Fine Arts, Business, and History papers.

Do High School Students Doing Research Need Mentors?

Mentors are great to have throughout your research project as they will guide and advise on your work. However, it’s also not mandatory that you have a mentor.

High school students interested in having mentors throughout their research journey can do so by first looking at the people in their immediate environment. Your teachers. This is because they have expertise in the field you’re basing your topic on.

Another way to find great mentors is to look at experts or scientists around your area if you’re doing scientific research. College or university professors in your area can also be able and willing mentors.

Additionally, you could look for instructors or judges from your local science fairs or summer programs. Another alternative would be paying for a mentor. However, check that the mentor has a strong mentorship track record and is not just commercially focused.

Resources for Pioneer Students Conducting Research

While research is important for students, not all high schools have such programs or the resources necessary to facilitate research projects. In addition, most students lack the knowledge and confidence to pursue an independent research project, especially without a mentor.

This is why Pioneer offers online research opportunities for high school students. This research program ensures that students can access a faculty mentor, depending on the research concentration, to help provide individualized guidance.

In addition to the mentorship, Pioneer ensures that the students have access to the resources necessary for the project. This includes research seminars and a writing center to help edit your paper appropriately.

At Pioneer, you also gain access to undergraduate online library, which boasts hundreds of journals and research databases, not to forget over 100,000 e-books for research. How cool is that?

If the Pioneer online research opportunity sounds like something you’d be interested in, be sure to sign up for our online information session. We will be answering questions students and parents have about our program. You can also contact us here or at [email protected]to speak to a team member.