Virtual Research Opportunities in High School: How To Conduct Research in 7 Steps

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Virtual Research Opportunities

As a high school student who wants to do a research project, you may think your resources are limited. As someone who is just starting out or who is unfamiliar with the methodologies and practices involved, you may also think the process of conducting research is daunting. That is not true! There are plenty of virtual research opportunities available for free, even if you are not an undergraduate student or in graduate school.

All you have to do is find the right resources and toolkits throughout the process. Research opportunities for high school students can come easily for free if you follow Pioneer Academics‘ open resource guide. Hey, you will impress colleges in your college application when you present that you created the research opportunities on your own.

To get started, check out these helpful tips.

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7 Foundational Steps To Conducting Online Research

This article provides guidance on the fundamental steps involved in conducting online or virtual research, enabling you to anticipate and navigate the process effectively. Regardless of your prior research experience, with unwavering commitment, you can pursue virtual research opportunities confidently.

  1. Determine which field you will conduct your research project in and take a deep dive in it

The most common first step recommendation for a research project is to choose a topic of interest. It is the case for most of the graduate or Phd candidates, but for high school students, exploring the field of study is a critical step that tends to be missed.

Unlike graduate or Phd students who have studied the fields of study well, high school students need to get exposure to certain research areas first. Do you feel intrigued by environmental science or social sciences? Picking a research area that ignites curiosity and passion is the right start.

For example, if you are interested in cognitive computing, in addition to solid computer science and mathematics foundations, you should choose to explore one of the areas contributing to cognitive computing so that you can choose one direction for your research topic. These areas include: AI branch in computer science, neuroscience, linguistics, psychology, and mathematics.

  1. Choose and define your topic of interest

By exploring the research areas, you will be able to identify what interests you most, what is discussed most in the space and what is still unanswered. Only at this time, you are ready to decide on your research topic and research scope.

For the above reason, to do original research for high school students, it will be crucial to go through the process of sufficient reading before deciding on a research topic.

Of course, high school students don’t have to conduct original research, which is the hardest to do. There are many forms of research projects available, like building your own website based on your research.

  1. Formulate research questions

As you identify the fields of study that are relevant to your research, choose your topic. It is time to focus on literature review.

It’s important to consider the previous research that has been conducted in your area of interest. What were the findings and conclusions of previous studies? Gaining an understanding of these conclusions can help guide the direction and focus of your own research opportunities.

In this process, you may still adjust your research question based on the findings of literature review.

  1. Evaluate your sources and information

Evaluating sources and information is a key aspect of conducting research as a high school student, and several factors must be considered during this process.

Firstly, it’s essential to identify the primary purpose of the research, along with the target audience it was intended for.

Additionally, assessing the authority and credibility of both the author and publication is necessary. Determining the reliability and accuracy of the information provided is also crucial. For example, information from wikipedia is not considered as a valid source of citation for serious research.

Lastly, the age of the research should be taken into account, as older research may not be as relevant or reliable as more recent studies. By considering these factors, researchers can ensure that the sources they use are appropriate and trustworthy.

  1. Consider additional data collection methods

Subsequent to identifying your research topic and scope, the next step in conducting online research is data collection. This encompasses the process of gathering information, observing, and measuring relevant data. Things you may consider include: Will you be conducting surveys or interviews? Will you need resources for laboratory research? How will you store the data you collect?

There are a variety of free resources available online for high school students to use when completing a virtual research program. If you are looking to store data and conduct data processing or data analysis, you could leverage cloud storage solutions such as Google Doc, Google Sheets, and Google Drive. If you are conducting an interview with multiple audiences, you could use Google Form to conduct responses. These are just a few examples.

  1. Organize your full body of research and draw conclusions

Organizing your full body of research and drawing conclusions is the final phase of the research process. After collecting and analyzing the data, it’s essential to ensure that all the information is adequately organized for easy retrieval and analysis. This may involve categorizing the data into specific themes, organizing the data in tables, or using charts and graphs to visually represent the data.

Once the data is organized, it’s time to draw conclusions based on the findings. This entails interpreting the data, analyzing trends, and drawing conclusions based on the research question. By following these steps, high school students can conduct thorough research and present their findings in an organized, easy-to-understand format.

  1. Research outcome and sharing

Different types of research yield different outcomes. Original research produces new knowledge for the world. (Assuming the way the research is conducted is valid). Literature reviews can contribute to different interpretations or perspectives of existing knowledge.

For high school students doing research independently on their own, research projects come in wide varieties. It doesn’t have to be original research, which is the hardest. Pursuing any type of research project on your own shows how motivated you are. Sharing your research projects is the exciting last step.

You can consider the following research projects:

  1. Literature review;
  2. Scientific summaries and reports;
  3. White papers.

You can share your research projects in the following ways:

  1. Make your own infographics;
  2. Suggestions or proposals to the legal or governing bodies
  3. Build your own website or podcast;
  4. Present your recommendations to your community.

Common Methods for Conducting Virtual Research

Social media apps

Now that you are aware of the foundational steps on how to conduct online research, it is important for you to be aware of the common methods used when completing successful virtual research projects.

If you are a high school student or a new undergraduate student and you have not participated in virtual research before, you may not be familiar with these methods. Since everything will be done online, it will differ from what you may have experienced while conducting research projects in a traditional classroom setting. The following methods are used often in humanity or social science research:

Focus groups

Another method to consider when exploring virtual research opportunities is to host or participate in focus groups. High school students can create or join research groups on social media platforms or participate in forums related to their research interests. There are also professional development workshops that can help students learn more about their research topic.


When conducting research, it is strongly encouraged to conduct interviews with experts who have years of research experience. Also, you should interview members of your target audience. Since the research is virtual, you can set up a video conference or email back and forth with your interviewee!


Researchers use surveys to gather information from target audiences using a set of related questions with the goal of developing a better understanding of the survey population. They can be conducted online, face-to-face, or over the telephone. The good news for high schoolers thinking about conducting online research is that there are plenty of online survey tools available to help.

Content analysis of social media and social networks

If your research involves analyzing content or conducting surveys, you can look at the possibility of doing it through social media. A common method used in virtual research is a content analysis using social media or social networks. By harnessing the power of social media, you can reach more people and capture relevant data and insights to support your project. Social media platforms can also be effective when the target audience of your research project includes youth and young adults.

Web-based experiments

Web-based experiments are an alternative to laboratory experiments, which may not be feasible for all high school students. This method is best if the research topic involves economics, psychology, or political science. They are also less expensive and can be completed more quickly than traditional laboratory experiments.

Clinical trials

The National Science Foundation defines clinical trials as research methods performed on individuals aimed to evaluate surgical, behavioral, biomedical research, or medical intervention. This method is best if your research topic involves the medical field.

Online ethnography

Online ethnography, otherwise known as virtual ethnography, is a type of online research that studies communities, cultures, and traditions. This type of research method is best if your research topic pertains to anthropology or culture studies.

Important Resources for Conducting Online Research Projects

Computer Google Search

Online access journals

An easy and reliable source of information for your research is online access journals. These are often peer-reviewed studies that can be accessed for free. Here are a few online access sites you can check out:

Google Scholar and Google Books

Google Scholar and Google Books are sites where you can search for information for your research. They are easy and simple to use. All you have to do is type in the relevant keywords on the site. You can search for articles, books, abstracts, and even court opinions. Universities and academic experts also publish their research on Google Scholar.

Library database

You can find scholarly information in library databases. College students and academic dignitaries use library databases for clinical trial reports to outsource credible information. Library databases have academic journals, e-books, and even educational videos.

Paper checkers

A paper checker is a digital software that checks your paper for errors. Before any paper is published, you should consider using a paper checker to identify and correct spelling errors or grammatical issues. Of course, you should also manually proofread your paper. Better yet, consider asking a mentor to review it and provide feedback.

Newspaper archives

Newspaper archives are a collection of documents, news, and records that contain historical information. Published facts, data, evidence, and reports from newspapers are excellent sources of information. You should consider this source if your research program is about history or if you need important dates.

Historical archives

A historical archive provides a collection of records or documents that contain historical information. These sources are essential because they provide evidence of historical events that will help you understand individuals, institutions, history, and the past. For example, the National Archives provides resources involving American History, including general sites and specific event information.

Pair up with a research team

Pairing up with a research team that can guide and support you throughout the process can make things much easier for you. You can consider seeking advice from peers, college students, international students, a professor, or from an online group to name a few!

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Online Guidance and Mentoring With Pioneer Academics

For high school students aspiring to conduct independent research at the highest level, you are welcome to apply to Pioneer Academics.

Pioneer is highly respected by higher education for its selectivity and academic excellence. It is the only fully accredited online research program for high school students.

We welcome students from around the world for such a demanding but rewarding experience that culminates with an original research paper that meets our rigorous standards.

To learn more about research programs with Pioneer, sign up for a free online information session.

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