In one of my more recent posts, I gave simple tips for putting together and writing an assignment (click here). In this post, I’m going to detail some more specific types of assignments, as well as reputable sources which could be applicable to certain courses. A starting point, if Wikipedia is normally your first point of call.
So, when researching for academic assignments (e.g. your uni work), the most important thing is, who said it. It could be the best, well-structured argument in the world, but if it came from the blog of a mum-of-three from Wolverhampton that is a hairdresser, but has started a website about business management in her spare time, her opinion doesn’t mean a thing. Expertise is the key element when looking for sources, it’s why lecturers are constantly saying not to use Wikipedia as anyone can edit it, why blogs and vlogs aren’t necessarily the best places to get statistics about the rise of inflation after Brexit hits.
When it comes to referencing, it’s all about the names your associating with your work (it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!). So, if you’re a business student, look at texts by Elon Musk, Lord Alan Sugar and Sir Richard Branson. If you’re a chef student, you need to look at texts by Massimo Bottura, Raymond Blanc and Joël Robuchon. If it’s hair and make-up you’re looking into, Nicky Clarke, Charlotte Tilbury, Pat McGrath and Ted Gibson. The point is, research needs to be relevant and reiterating and quoting the top people in that field. For example, one of my assignments is the history of plated desserts, so I’m using a range of world-renowned chefs to quote, published historians and people who have knowledge in the field due to academia (e.g. professors, university lecturers etc..), which are normally the authors of journals.
In terms of specific research sources, I’m going to give a few tips on my five preferred methods of researching.
In my opinion, if you’re writing an academic piece of work, a large proportion of the information should be from books. As far as reliability goes, books are an extremely safe option because texts from a published author should be factual. However, the downside of researching from books is that it’s probably the most time consuming way of researching. As using books first involves going and finding the book (library hunting involves lots of walking around Birmingham library). Secondly, combing through a book is very time consuming. A tip for speeding things up if you’re looking for a specific bit of information, is using the index at the back of the book. At the moment, I’m looking into a few historic figures, so if I go to the index of the book and they are not included, it’s time to move onto the next one.
Journals are also a really reputable source as journals are published by experts in a field. I’ve used UCB’s U search (click here), available in the library area of the portal. This is where I’ve found 90% of my journals, they are all reliable and factual. Journals often have statistics and numbers which can be used to back up points within work. As far as referencing is concerned with journals, I’ve never had a problem as the title page is usually full of all the necessary referencing information. Also, journals always have reference pages themselves, which gives additional sources to look into if you’re stuck on where to look for information.
Articles are a really good way of finding current and relevant information. As articles are published in newspapers and magazines all the time, the relevance of the information is always high, whereas when looking at current trends and such, finding the information in books isn’t always possible. Another advantage of the article is the majority of magazines are available online, meaning they are accessible online, but are referenced as magazine articles. In terms of referencing, not all magazines show all elements that are needed during the referencing stage, such as some don’t list authors, some don’t list publication dates etc, so information may be lacking.
Some great places to look for articles include:
- The Guardian
- The Times
- The Daily Mail
- The Telegraph
- The Independent
- Big Hospitality
- The Caterer
- Bon Appetit
- The Economist
- Food Manufacture
Web pages are where a lot of students go to get their information. Although a great tool to aid research, Googling should not be relied on to produce coherent, academic work. Web pages are the most risky, reliability-wise. Anyone is able to change, amend and tamper with information on the internet. When looking for reputable sources, go for business web pages (e.g. MSK ingredients and Aubrey Allen), institutional pages (e.g. Le Cordon Bleu and University College Birmingham) and public services (e.g. NHS).
Government publications are, obviously, a reputable source of information. Click here to go to government publications. The government has documents on a variety of topics in a variety of formats. These can easily be referenced using the referencing handbook ( I went to CASE to double check).
So, I hope this post has given you a few tips and tricks in terms of research – more can be found at my previous post My Guide to Assignments (Click here)
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