These are tips complied from my own experience of a research module, some may be more specific to the module I completed than a generic research module but I hope you find them useful!
Don’t panic – research modules are often seen as big scary modules that consume your life. Utilise the class resources and your lecturers. If you find yourself struggling – ask for help, read more resources, speak to someone who has completed the module before or someone in your cohort who may be able to help and take a deep breath. You can do this module and pass the assignment!
Start early – you will need to do lots of wider reading to fully understand the terminology used and this can be time-consuming. Start early and gather references for key points before you start writing. Make a plan so you know what you want to include in each section, this will help you to find relevant supporting evidence.
Understand the terminology – research terminology can often seem like a brand new language, which it is if you have never done a research module before or fully read research papers. Spend some time learning the terminology before you start writing your assignment, and see how the terminology features in and applies to your chosen papers.
Read through your chosen papers a few times – highlight terminology where it’s used and try to understand the flow of a research paper. Use the abstract on the front to gain understanding of the key areas within the paper and read the background/literature review included to understand the aim of the paper.
Write in sections – this can help you to focus and keep the information relevant. Break your papers down into method, data collection, data analysis and results. This can help you to pick out relevant pieces of information and enables you to focus your search for references. These key areas are usually included concisely within the abstract.
Strengths and limitations – the good thing about research is that there are strengths and limitations available for every aspect of the research methods. This enables you to get good critical analysis into the assignment, you can build arguments for every section of the research paper.
Application to practice – some research papers will include this in detail, if yours doesn’t look at other similar research papers to see how they would apply their findings to practice. Link back to current guidelines such as NICE to show you have an understanding of how research can be used to develop guidelines and influence nursing practice.
Hierarchy of evidence pyramid – look at how the different research methods feature at different points of the pyramid. This may be worth discussing and gives you an understanding of why some research methods are preferred to others.
Don’t worry if it’s not your thing – we all have our own little niches, research happens to be one of mine but if you don’t enjoy it, it just means it isn’t your area but something else will be! The world would be a boring place if we all enjoyed the same things. Try to understand the module the best you can and use this module to improve your research understanding, this will help you with your dissertation/literature review even if you don’t love the research module itself!