Skills you need to become a Researcher

You need a range of skills to conduct research

Over the years, I have worked with various students who are very serious about their studies and research.

They have the right motivation, brilliant ideas and knowledge in their subject matter, but they still struggle with their research.


The obvious and probable answer is that certain research skills are missing.

Let’s meet Simon

“Simon is an undergraduate student in his Year 3 who has little knowledge about research but willing to conduct research on a topic of interest. Because of its enthusiasm, he is able to get a head start and gather ideas and information surrounding the topic”

However, those ideas are abstract and stacked only in Simon’s head, he needs to put them down in print for it to be considered a proper research.

Now, Simon finds it difficult to put his idea down in print because he has not developed one necessary skills needed for research.

Yes, you guessed right! REPORT WRITING SKILLS

Many students are in Simon’s shoes.

Now, what is Research skills?

Research skills refer to the ability to search for, locate, extract, organise, evaluate and use or present information that is relevant to a particular topic. Simply put, it is the skills needed to conduct research.

Hey Research divided Research skills into two important categories.

● Soft skills (transferable skills)

● Hard skills

What are Soft skills?

These are skills that are developed unconsciously during the course of carrying out frequent research.

They include:

1. Ability to manage your project: This includes planning, scheduling, goal setting, setting milestones, time management and effective communication between student and supervisors.

It is important for students to develop such soft skills for research.

If you have all the necessary hard skills but you do not master basic activities such as efficiently managing your time for research, setting milestones or communicating with your supervisors, you may find yourself struggling with your research.

You can check our previous post on “Building a positive relationship with your supervisor” to learn how to communicate with your supervisor

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2. Critical thinking:

“The ability to think critically is more important now than it has ever been,” Kris Potrafka. Ability to think critically is the act of analysing an issue, problem and the facts, data and evidence related to it. The good news is that this skill is subconsciously developed when you constantly learn and do Research.

Critical thinking is a skill that allows you to make logical and informed decisions to the best of your ability. A critical thinker would hardly believe such things as rumour, fairy tales, fantasy. same way a researcher would not believe any information until it finds out its source and the evidence backing the facts being stated.

3. Problem solving: This is another important skill that you need to become a researcher. By constantly doing research, you are able to view problems from several angles and with the help of critical thinking, you can proffer solutions to these problems. Problem solvers and solution builders are the leaders of the world, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and other top companies and multinationals and leading CEOs are problem solvers. It all comes from constant research and analysis of situations. Hence, the benefits of understanding how to carry out research goes beyond Getting A in your Thesis.

4. Communication/presentation skills: Research is not complete until it gets to and understood by the readers, audience or beneficiary of your research. It is also very important as a student to communicate and present your research clearly, since it determines your research grades.

5. Analytical skills: How well can you collect and manage information?

Analytical skills are the ability to efficiently collect and analyze large information in order to derive an ideal solution. Analytical skills comes very handy when building your theoretical framework, integrating new information, writing your research methodology, selecting sampling and sampling technique, interpreting your research data and lastly discussing your research findings.

What are Hard skills?

Hard skills are those skill sets that you acquire in classrooms, by reading books or actively using training materials, and they can be easily identified and assessed. To be able to carry out research efficiently, you need to develop these hard skills. These skills include but not limited to, writing skills, report writing, data collection or analysis, efficient reading and searching for source etc.

Ability to conduct a literature review: A literature review should show that you understood the subject matter and the previous research on your topic. It means you have successfully read around your topic and can finally summarize the viewpoints and important facts about the subject matter. Ability to conduct literature review is a research skill and it also requires learning several steps such as finding sources, searching for terms and information in the smart way, critical reading, gathering sources, referencing journals and authors.

Note: The review of your literature should come early in your research.

Ability to generate and test hypotheses: According to Oxford Dictionary, A hypothesis is a supposition or suggested argument made on the basis of a limited proof and it serves as a starting point for further research. Your research question/hypothesis is the reason for carrying out that research. It defines your methodology and analysis technique. So, next time you are carrying out your Research, you should pay attention to your research hypothesis.

We could train you on how to form a research hypothesis so that you don’t end up with a wrong hypothesis.

Designing Appropriate experiments: You may be doing experimental research. Understanding your research methodology is important in this situation. Designing your experimental group, control groups, tweaking the parameters you have and analysing the relationship among and within groups are key to acing your experimental research study.

Data analysis: The simplest, popular and most frequent data analysis technique used is the descriptive statistics. I am surprised that some students don’t even know how this works. The fact is descriptive statistics, as basic as it is, can be your major analysis technique to finalize your research findings, it depends how well you can use it.

There many data analysis software popularly used by researchers and they include SPSS, Eviews, Stata, Matlab, R and python .

Data presentation (oral, poster, graphical, PowerPoint,visuals and written): Data presentation can be in any form, you can decide to have a poster or powerpoint depending on your department or school requirement. Presenting your data with visuals, posters will definitely give life to your presentation.

It can be very difficult to dive into research without understanding all that it involves going from point A to point Z. Many students don’t even know where they are in their research at any point, or what the next step should be.

Hey Research organizes training to help you gain total control of your research at an early stage with less supervision. We also offer 24/7 support service to early researchers.

A group of research-loving experts. Our goal is to enhance the quality of research by offering training and mentoring to early researchers.