How to Teach Research: 5 Solid Tips

Research, but specifically how to research has, in the last ten years, become crucial in understanding our world. There are currently countless “researchers” digging around in dark places on the internet, all of them wallowing in false and unfounded information, who think that there is some kind of Satanic cabal that controls everything and is drinking the blood of children.

It is prevalent enough for a mob of them to attack the U.S. Capital only a few months ago.

When I was in college in the ‘90’s, the internet was new. One could find the information one needed with a simple search. Yes, it was like searching for a needle in a haystack, but you could narrow things down to find legitimate, peer reviewed articles. Currently, however, the haystack has grown to the size of the universe and the needle is microscopic.

How do we help students navigate this minefield? Here are five things I do in my classroom to ensure that students are researching properly.

  1. Don’t Give Them Research Topics — I used to give students research topics for the reason that students need all the guidance they can get. This is really a poor way to introduce research. The truth is that we research all the time. Let’s say your friend approaches you and tells you about a song by a particular artist. You listen to the song. You like the song. You then research that band, finding out what the entire album sounds like and then maybe you find out more about them and discover a whole new band to jam to. This is how research is naturally accomplished. We want to know what is over the next hill. The drive to know something is what should drive research.

I’ve been teaching for over 20 years, but maybe I missed something in my list. If you want to contribute, write a comment below. We could all learn from one another. This is what makes us better people.

Originally published at on April 13, 2021.

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