For students with dyslexia or neurodiversity, the thought of undertaking internet research in their own time at university can be quite daunting. That’s because finding the information you need and doing it in an effective way are so much harder than simply absorbing text from a page or listening to someone tell you what you need to know to complete your assignment. With these five top tips, you’ll be able to become an internet research pro!
Best practise for investigating sources.
We all use the internet to gather information on topics and issues that interest us, whether we're researching our studies or just browsing the latest video game news. But while browsing may be useful, an important aspect of research is to investigate online data. This involves more than just looking around - there are certain best practises for investigating online data that you should keep in mind. For example, if you want to find out about a topic, it's best not to rely solely on what Wikipedia has to say. Try conducting your own investigation into this topic by doing some relevant searches in Google Scholar or PubMed Central and checking the university library catalogues too!
Keep on top of your resources
Find out what your university's guidelines are on the use of sources and citation format. If your course requires you to use Harvard style, learn how to set up a Harvard citation guide in Microsoft Word. Keep on top of referencing websites by looking up the date of last update before using them as a source for your work. Add citations to online articles after every couple of paragraphs or as you come across references in each paragraph.
A great way to keep on top of resources is to use an app such as Pro-Study that helps students to build a database of sources whilst applying the relevant citation style required by any particular university. Importing sources into Pro-Study is a mouse click and means that the student can investigate and collect numerous sources quickly and know that they can go back to them later on for a deeper dive into the information. So often, sources are found and temporarily stored on multiple browser tabs and as a result are easily lost when the browser is closed down. Pro-Study keeps all the data safe ready for the student to recall when they need it for their essays and dissertations.
The video below shows how Pro-Study works.
Work in brief sprints
It's okay to take breaks while researching online. Switching the order of your tasks can help you better think through what you're doing and find what you're looking for. Set aside a chunk of time when it's less likely that other responsibilities will interfere with your research, like the early hours of the morning or during lunch breaks. Stay focused on one topic and avoid too many distractions as you work.
Don’t expect perfection – progress is what counts
Don't get too caught up in finding the perfect research topic for your paper. The best way to go about it is to find some topics and narrow down the field, then spend time researching one particular topic. Eventually you'll find a topic that makes sense and feels right, so don't worry if you're not satisfied with the first idea you come up with. Remember – progress is what counts.
Spread out your time online
If you have a number of tasks you need to complete, set time aside each day for different types of activity. Rather than focusing on one task for hours and hours until you finish it, try picking one, like looking up topics to write about. Then spend a few minutes looking at the information you found before tackling another project. Give yourself half an hour or so of internet time in the morning and then a little bit more as the day goes on if necessary.
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