A student guide: How to improve your research skills

Discover the ways you can enhance your research abilities by using this guide.

Oct 10, 2022
How to improve research skills

Are you confident in your research ability? The importance of research skills has grown in the internet age, and with a mountain of information at your fingertips, you must find and evaluate this info like a professional climbing the cracks of Everest. This guide starts with a basic understanding of how to conduct research effectively.

Many students struggle with research because of a lack of proper skills or knowledge. How do you organize your work and which tools are available to help you? Climb to the top and perfect these vital skills for research that is of the highest quality. 

Start by reading extensively on the topic you're researching

Effective reading is critical when it comes to carrying out research. This requires quickly and efficiently taking in information from a text, while also extracting the most important points. Here are 3 tips that will help you improve your reading skills:

Be selective 

Be selective about what you read. Don’t try to read everything – focus on the key texts that are most relevant to your research question.

Skim read first

Skim read the text first, then go back and read it more carefully if necessary. This will help you get a sense of the overall argument and structure of the text.

Practice makes perfect

The more you practice, the more you improve. Building any skill takes time and dedication, so be patient and prepared to put in the hours. 

Take detailed notes & highlight important points

When it comes to high-quality research, taking detailed notes is one of the most useful skills you can learn. Not only will this help you keep track of everything you’ve found, but it also makes it easier to identify key points and summarize your findings later on. Here are a few tips for taking great notes:

Don’t forget key information

Make sure to take down all the information you need, including the source of each piece of data. This will help you avoid any confusion later on. When summarizing your findings, be sure to reference all the sources you used. This way, your readers can check your work if they want to.

Make the most out of your notes

Study material like academic journals is often in PDF, so use an Edit PDF tool to directly annotate and highlight the important parts. Directly annotating PDF saves time and lets you make useful visual notes on original documents. To find out more about how PDF tools can help your studies, head to this post “5 Student hacks college never told you”.

Add a visual element 

Using images is a practical hack for studying and developing your research skills. Images are proven to create an additional mental pathway in the brain, so reading and associating text with a visual element doubles your chances of taking in key information. Enhance your research and note-taking with images by adding them to your documents with the Edit PDF tool.

Here's how to add an image to a PDF:

  1. Go to the Edit PDF tool.
  2. Select the file from your computer, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
  3. In the main toolbar, select the Add image icon to import a file.
  4. Click on the image to drag and drop it to its correct position.
  5. Hit the Edit PDF button.
  6. Download your edited PDF file or save it back to the Cloud.

Stay organized to easily find what you need 

Enhancing student research skills involves working on your organization. Create a research log to keep track of all the information you’re collecting. This can be as simple as a notebook or spreadsheet where you record the following information:

  • The date and time of your research session
  • The name of the source you are researching from (e.g. book, article, website)
  • The title of the source
  • A brief summary of what you found while researching from that source 

The wonders of working online remove the reliance on paper piles that take up your study space. Save your documents online or locally on your computer and create folders to access your documents even faster and develop your time management skills.

Have you found a useful journal that has 20 pages too many? Easily edit PDF documents so you only keep the pages you need to. With an Organize PDF tool; sort, edit, add, and delete PDF pages to create a single document that is a more efficient source of information. 

Here’s how to organize your research documents:

  1. Go to the Organize PDF tool.
  2. Upload a file from your device, Google Drive, or Dropbox account. 
  3. Drag, drop, and delete pages to organize your document.
  4. Click Organize to download. 

Improving your online research skills 

It's no secret that the internet has made research easier than ever before. With a simple search engine query, you can find information on any topic imaginable. However, this ease of access also means that it's easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information available. How can you ensure that you're getting the most accurate and reliable information? 

Here’s a list of research skills to improve your internet research and help you find quality sources:

  • Use specific keywords when searching for information. This will help you to find relevant results more quickly and easily.
  • Take advantage of search engines’ advanced features, such as filters and operators. These features can help you to refine your search results and get more accurate results. Find a list of useful operators here.
  • Look at a variety of sources when researching a topic. This will help you to get a more complete picture of the issue at hand. One place to find good sources is Google Scholar.
  • Check the credibility of your sources before using them in your research project. It doesn’t matter if you're carrying out data collection or report writing, reliable sources are the key to the quality of your research.

Discover the rest of the iLovePDF tools

A climber never starts their journey without the right tools. To master the research process, ensure that you don’t miss out on the free online tools available to guide you. From organizing your research to editing high-quality notes, many PDF tools can aid you to gather information by making the management of documents faster and easier.

Convert Microsoft Office to PDF, start using Digital Signatures, and Scan your physical document to digitize your handwritten research. Download the Mobile app and manage your documents from anywhere, and the Desktop app to edit all of your research files offline.

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