Keep All of Your Research – Don’t Waste your Work
In academic work, the student is constantly doing homework and looking up information. Many students produce written works based on things that they lookup. This information is synthesized by the student who produces an original view or work of the subject. Guess what? You have been doing research! Many students hear the word research and think of scientists in a lab working on experiments. This is not always the case. As you progress through your higher education path, here are some ways your work can support your research needs at the next level.
Research at the Bachelor’s Level
In high school, students spend many hours working on structured formulas or known hypothesis to reproduce the results of experiments by other researchers. When the student enters college, the research is energized to the next level. In college, the level of understanding is heightened, and the amount of synthesis is also increased. In the initial stages of college, the student is provided seminal works and formulas to begin the understanding of the subject they are working in. By the time the student finishes the Bachelor's program, the student is clearly a master of the conceptual formulas and functions. The student at this level works within the confines of the adopted past.
Research at the Master’s and Doctoral Level
The student moves into the Master's program. At this level, the student begins to expand beyond the adopted norm and begins to develop their thoughts on topics. At this level, the student is synthesizing and understanding higher level policies and procedures that would affect a strategic level in the subject they are studying. The student attains the status of master in their field: someone who can guide policies and procedures.
The last stage is the doctoral level. This final stage takes the student out of the process and allows them to start developing a new theory that others will use or follow. It is at this level that the student becomes a true subject matter expert. The doctoral student is steeped in research.
Use a Research Tool to Keep Your Work organized
So what about all this work? We have just discussed 12 years of school. Sadly much of it is wasted. During many courses, students maintain their documents to meet the course requirements. At the end of the course, they do a document and brain dump readying themselves for the next class. DON’T! Save your work in a research tool such as Zotero or Mendeley. Using these tools to collect and document your work will allow you to be able to use this completed research later as you move through your academic degree.
Reusing Research Saves a lot of Time
I found a paper that I wrote in my freshman year of college to be very inspirational and useful in my master's program. I had already done much of the research I needed to accomplish the work in the freshman paper. I just had to elevate the discussion and correct the synthesis to a master’s point of view from a freshman's point of view. Using this old work saved me quite a bit of time in finding research articles. Remember that all the work you do is research. Every paper you download and every paper you write needs to be cataloged. Don’t look back like many people do and regret not having your past work. If some of your work is not digital, simply scan it into a PDF. You can then catalog and keyword index your papers. Bottom line is you have spent many hours researching. Don’t waste it!