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Developing Essential Research Skills

Research skills are imperative for creating a standout video, so we’ve put together this helpful guide full of tips on how to find reputable sources and conduct effective research. 

To start, pick a topic and subtopic that interests you or that you have some familiarity with. Once you have your topic, write down what you already know about the topic and at least three additional things you are interested in learning. If you want some guidance on what to look for when researching your topic, check out the Video Project Guide.

The topic backgrounders are full of quality sources to help you get started, but we also encourage you to find some additional resources on your own. Sources can be books, articles, research papers, encyclopedias, websites, experts, etc. A physical library is always a good place to start or you can use a search engine like JSTOR, Google Scholar, or BASE to help you find peer-reviewed literature

When gathering your research, you will want to check that the source is credible. As a rule of thumb, websites like Wikipedia are not credible sources, as they can be edited by anyone. Below are some questions you can ask when analyzing the credibility of the sources from your research:

  • Does the resource include citations to show where the author got their information?
    • An exception for this rule is if the resource is a primary source. Learn more about primary sources here.
  • Is the author a well-respected expert or publisher?
  • Is the information provided unbiased and analyzed from multiple perspectives?

When writing down your facts, don’t copy them down word for word, take only the important parts that relate to the claim you are making. If you come across a particularly powerful quote, feel free to include it in your video to help make your argument stronger. However, make sure to credit the author both on screen in your video and in your citations. A good rule of thumb is that for every one quotation, you should have at least three sentences of your own thoughts. 

Make sure to cite your sources in the appropriate format whether it’s MLA, APA, etc. The website Citation Machine can also do this for you.

We hope with these research tools under your belt, finding useful information for your video will be easier and less intimidating for you. And remember, the more you use these research skills, the more natural and intuitive they will become!