How to Research Effectively?

The first step in writing a research paper is to select a suitable subject. It could be assigned to you by your guide or chosen by you. Deciding the approach in presenting your topic will save you hours of work. Is it a comparison? Process? Case study?

Once you decide the topic and the approach, you are ready to focus on the kind of information you need to look for in your research. For example, you may be writing a paper on rainwater harvesting: Discuss recent improvements in rainwater harvesting in India and the benefits thereof.



1. Look for Searchable key terms:

The key to effective research is to break the topic down into a series of relevant keywords or phrases that you can search. As a first step highlight the keywords, taking care to eliminate general terms such as discuss, recent and thereof which will generate too many results and focus only on the concepts. In this subject, these can be:

  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Rainwater harvesting India

Research tools look for exact matches in spelling to the search terms that you enter. Search engines don’t find synonyms, so look for synonyms that will help in finding resources useful for your research. A relevant topic could also be indexed under a differently spelt word. You may consider acronyms, synonyms and differently spelt words for your search. Look for variations listed below:

  • Efficient rainwater management in India
  • RWH India
  • Traditional water harvesting

2. Refine your search:

There could be surveys or reports on the subject by experts.  There could be organisations or individuals who have done excellent work which is referenceable. They may have relevant materials posted on their websites or blogs.

Sometimes the search might bring up too many hits and it may complicate your research. Try to be precise about the type of information that you want. For example, you could focus on specific aspects of rainwater harvesting such as case studies, surveys, whitepapers that can help your research.

3. Be Specific:

Your need may be specific to rural and agricultural requirements. Refining your search terms to match your requirements may save many hours of your time while also taking you closer to your resources. Here a possible search could also be stormwater management, which is to manage the excess water that is greater than what the land can soak into the soil.

Depending on the climatic conditions your search may need to be further refined: for example, you can search for RWH for scanty rainfall region or heavy rainfall region.

4. Don’t stray too far:

While a search for the wrong term may lead you away from the resources you may be looking for! For example, rainwater accumulation may lead you to articles which discuss water logging which is very different from the subject of your research.

Being clear about what you want to research will not only make an effort worthwhile, it will also be pleasurable! Happy Researching!!

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Karan Thapar :

    Nicely put, Many thanks.

    6 years ago