At times, it can be difficult to find a sense of community in the AU digital sphere. However, AU has many events occurring on a consistent basis. These range from style guide tips for assignments to research tips and tricks.
This Voice Magazine writer recently had a chance to attend a new AU research-focused series.
Developing Your Research Series: Keeping Organized as You Search took place on January 23, 2023 from 12:30 to 1:30 MT. In particular, this event was part two of a five-part research series, with the previous session titled, Developing Your Research Series: Introduction to Research Data Management. Recordings of past sessions can be found on AU’s YouTube channel.
A total of 28 students attended this session, co-hosted by the AU Library and Write Site, including Jennifer Rempel, AU’s Information Literacy & Resource Access Librarian, Sarah-Jean Watt, AU’s Write Site Coordinator, and Robin Stobbs, AU’s Research Data Management Librarian.
Keeping Organized as You Search
The presenters broke down the session into five main points, namely time management, search journals, organizing your search, note taking, and research planning.
- Time Management
During the time management portion of the presentation, the discussion centred on assignment calculators, which allow students to input their assignment start and end dates. In particular, the Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the University of Toronto (UofT) assignment calculators were mentioned for shorter assignments, while the University of British Columbia (UBC) thesis calculator and the University of Minnesota (UNM) Dissertation calculator were suggested for longer projects.
- Search Journals
Next, the discussion moved onto search journals. Here, students received advice on how to create a practical search journal for their research. These journals could potentially include various topics, such as search terms used, journal articles accessed, as well as a column to save citations that may need to be revisited in the future.
- Organizing Your Search
Students were then given advice and suggestions on various citation management systems, which can be used to organize research searches. Some examples included Mendely and Zotero. The presentation also briefly covered how to properly name document files for ease in locating them in the future.
- Note Taking
In the fourth section, the presenters covered various note taking techniques. Suggestions included making templates to take notes, as well as tips for reading actively to understand complex material. In particular, to read actively, students were advised to think critically, to reflect, and to summarize.
Recommendations were also provided regarding the differences between summarizing and paraphrasing, as well as using quotes effectively.
- Research Planning
Finally, the session considered the research planning process. Suggestions included, posing your research topic as a question, thinking about your research stance or angle, as well as narrowing down research to a focused thesis topic. Some further ideas included planning a research journal, doing a great deal of background reading prior to beginning research, creating a mind map, and making a research plan.
For students interested in additional AU events, AU’s Write Site hosts The Writing Forum, each Thursday from 12:30 to 1:30 MT. This session is an informal gathering of students and writing coaches. (For newer AU students, AU’s Write Site provides feedback on written drafts of submitted students assignments, before students submit their final version to their tutors).