Guide to taking a research seminar at UC Berkeley

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Research seminars offered at UC Berkeley helps students look into a subject more in-depth, something that would otherwise not be able to be explored through other classroom curriculum. As the format of research seminars are meant to prepare you for your potential postgraduate work, they are a different than traditional classes at UC Berkeley. To aid all you future researchers, we at the Clog have devised a guide to help optimize your experience through the daunting wilderness of research courses.

Nonexistent deadlines

Although the concept of a deadline-free course might sound appealing, when the rubber meets the road, the absence of scheduling could leave you struggling. There’s also no one in your ear telling you how to structure your own personal thesis, step-by-step, throughout the course.

Such an experience could help you develop new self-management skills while you figure out a way to create a framework for your research. And, whether you research before writing or research and write concurrently, setting up deadlines for yourself are important for you to stay par to the course. Find a way to quantify your thesis, trying to meet certain quotas every week. This can include gathering a certain number of sources or reviewing a minimal amount of literature.

Gathering sources
Before rummaging through the thick, tattered tomes in the department’s basement, you should figure out all of the resources you have available so you can bottleneck the conduits of information into a few resources that would best suit your research. Finding a few great articles, monographs or periodicals will be much better than gathering a large, versatile pile of mildly relevant sources.

Oskicat (UC Berkeley’s library search engine) can lead you through the large database as well as other academic works published around the world. You could even do all your research at home instead of Main Stacks — all you have to do is utilize the proxy server  to have access to other digital libraries such as JSTOR. If you’d like to have a tutorial on how to efficiently use these databases, you could always schedule a 30-minute appointment with a UC Berkeley librarian as well.

Communicate with your professor

No matter how thought out your thesis topic might be, chances are your professor will be able to tune it up. It’s important that the vision of your thesis also aligns with the vision of your professor. There’s always a chance that you may have misinterpreted certain facets of your topic and one small misinterpretation can veer off into a mountain of words structured over a bad foundation. Knowing that your professor knows what you’re trying to ascertain will fortify your work and allow you to trek on with confidence.

While these steps will guide you in your research endeavors, also remember to have fun and enjoy your experience. UC Berkeley is known for our research and you can be a part of something really great.

Contact Paul Martin at [email protected].