Congratulations to Melinda Robertson for winning the Minnesota School of Business-Online Division’s Research Award for Fall Quarter 2014! Melinda is the first student to win the Online Research Award twice. As a part of earning her Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting degree, Melinda created a business plan research project for her Research And Business Project Development class, taught by Dr. Gregory Coughlin. We interviewed Melinda to learn more about her research process and tips for successful researching and writing at the graduate level.
How does it feel to win the Research Award for the second time?
I was completely surprised! I am thankful to the instructors who provided comments on my writing through the classes to help me improve my skills. I am also thankful for the peer reviews I have received from my classmates who offered many suggestions and tips I never would have thought of myself.
Now that you’re nearing graduation, do you have any advice for graduate students who are just starting their program?
My advice is to think about what your final project is going to be in the first few classes of the program. By doing this you can glean a lot of information from the classes and instructors to make the project easier.
It is also helpful to start early on when finding credible sources for your research. The project I chose had limited sources, so I was very happy to collect them a year or so early instead of waiting until the last minute. When keeping a list of resources, make sure to keep it as an annotated bibliography. You will need to hand this in during the class (hint, hint), but it also helps you remember what information the source provides and what sections of the project the source will support.
What changes have you made in the way you do research or write now from when you were just starting your degree?
When I researched before, I tried to find articles that supported my viewpoint. Now, I focus on finding articles that describe all the sides of a topic. By researching each argument, I learn more about the subject and sometimes change my view of the argument. This is okay because it shows I am willing to listen and keep an open mind throughout the research process. I also reflect this in my writing as I work to explain to my audience all sides of the story. At first, I thought this would weaken my position on the argument, but now I realize it has strengthened it and allowed my paper to be fair and persuasive.
What is your favorite library resource for doing research?
The business guides are great resources. I particularly like the small business guide for viewing business plans I need to reference in-class discussion posts. I use the regular library search box when finding information for assignments. And, the APA citation help is always a go-to resource for me whenever I need to write a report.
Have you asked a librarian for help? What did you think of that service?
Yes, I have asked the librarians for help with APA citations if I couldn’t find the answer in the FAQs section. It is very easy to chat with a librarian, and they are very helpful in identifying links to provide me with more useful information.
Other thoughts or advice you would like to share?
If you need help, do not be afraid to ask. I have asked the librarians and instructors for clarification of assignments in the past. But, my best go-to source for help turned out to be my classmates. Being that the discussion posts mirror our weekly assignments, I learned a lot from the different points of view there were regarding a topic that made me research more sides of the argument and therefore learn more. We also gave project updates in my last two classes where my classmates offered articles and resources they found that could help each other’s reports. This was very helpful, and my project would not have been as good as it was without this assistance.