The first thing you need to do when starting a new research project is to identify your topic. Choose something that interests you – this will make your research more engaging and fun. It’s important to brainstorm a couple of different topics, ask questions about those topics, think about how in depth your research needs to be, how long your ultimate project is going to be, and how much time you have to complete your research.
Once you’ve selected a topic it’s time to start your preliminary research by gathering background information and identifying key concepts. Use reference sources, like Grove Music Online, The Oxford History of Western Music, or even Google, to learn about the people, places, and subjects that relate to your topic.
Evaluating sources when doing research can be a really complicated process but it’s important to recognize that the credibility of your research depends on the reliability of the information you use to support your points. Evaluation generally incorporates an initial appraisal and a content analysis.
When you start gathering your sources make sure that you have an organization method in mind and stick with it. Have a dedicated folder for all articles and a space for your books. Use a citation manager like Zotero. Find some sort of organizational method that works for you and stick with it.
Start working on a bibliography of all of your sources. Cite your resources consistently and start adding annotations or brief notes to articulate how you plan on using your sources in your project.