As a serious student, you most likely spend a lot of time worrying about your thesis and trying to find time to conduct research. Between classes, graduate student events, trying to maintain a social life, and maybe even working a job or two, it may seem like an unbelievable task.
The truth is, there are a lot of tips and tricks you can utilize to make researching your thesis so much easier. Here are some we recommend!
- Build your research through coursework. As you are taking classes, always be conscious of ways you can work toward your thesis. Even if you think your field of study is totally removed from the class you are taking, talk to your professor and see if you can make it happen.
- Scour references and take good notes. Even before you are ready to travel to an archive, start noting anything you think might be helpful in footnotes and endnotes. Keep running lists of certain archives and the materials you might find there.
- Contact archivists before you hit the road. Make sure the sources you are looking for are relevant and available to the public. Nothing worse than traveling hundreds of miles to find out the primary sources you wanted are confidential!
- See if your primary sources are available digitally. Archives across the United States are now putting parts of their collections online. Talk to faculty in your department to find out what repositories you should be researching.
- Make use of Inter-Library Loan programs. The Inter-Library Loan is a great way to get books – but some primary sources can also be sent from one repository to another! Make sure to check to see if your trip to a different city can be shortened to a walk over to your own university library.
- Find an expert in your field and find out about where sources are. Tired of traveling to archives and finding little or nothing of value? Make sure you are getting good guidance. If there are no faculty members in your department that know your topic, try reaching out to an expert at another university.
- Take advantage of technology. Research is quickly becoming more seamless with research tools like Zotero. You can also use Evernote or Google Keep instead of time-consuming notecards.
- Schedule your progress. Does the task of research seem overwhelming? Break it into bite-sized pieces. Figure out how many sources you will need, and when you need to have them by.
- Schedule a little time every week. Even when it’s a big week, try to conduct a little research, even if it’s just online. This will make you feel more in control of your research.
- Network with other professionals. Still not sure where the sources are? Want to get to know the archives before you visit? Reach out through social networking sites.
Let us know if you have any tips! Leave a comment below!