3 Steps to Successful Research

When students have to conduct a research project they often struggle with determining what to do. There are many decisions that have to be made that can impede a student’s chances of achieving success.  However, there are ways to overcome this problem.

This post will essentially reduce the decision-making process for conducting research down to three main questions that need to be addressed. These questions are.

  • What do you Want to Know?
  • How do You Get the Answer?
  • What Does Your Answer Mean?

Answering these three questions makes it much easier to develop a sense of direction and scope in order to complete a project.

What do you Want to Know?

Often, students want to complete a project but it is unclear to them what they are trying to figure out. In other words, the students do not know what it is that they want to know. Therefore, one of the first steps in research is to determine exactly it is you want to know.

Understanding what you want to know will allow you to develop a problem as well as research questions to facilitate your ability to understand exactly what it is that you are looking for. Research always begins with a problem and questions about the problem and this is simply another way of stating what it is that you want to know.

How do You Get the Answer?

Once it is clear what it is that you want to know it is critical that you develop a process for determining how you will obtain the answers. It is often difficult for students to develop a systematic way in which to answer questions. However, in a research paradigm, a scientific way of addressing questions is critical.

When you are determining how to get answers to what you want to know this is essential the development of your methodology section. This section includes such matters as the research design, sample, ethics, data analysis, etc. The purpose here is again to explain the way to get the answer(s).

What Does Your Answer Mean?

After you actually get the answer you have to explain what it means. Many students fall into the trap of doing something without understanding why or determining the relevance of the outcome. However, a research project requires some sort of interpretation or explanation of the results. Just getting the answer is not enough it is the meaning that holds the power.

Often, the answers to the research questions are found in the results section of a paper and the meaning is found in the discussion and conclusion section. In the discussion section, you explain the major findings with interpretation, sare recommendations, and provide a conclusion. This requires thought into the usefulness of what you wanted to know. In other words, you are explaining why someone else should care about your work. This is much harder to do than many realize.


Research is challenging but if you keep in mind these three keys it will help you to see the big picture of research and o focus on the goals of your study and not so much on the tiny details that encompasses the processes.

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