In order to develop research skills effectively you should divide them into three groups; the first group of research skills involves planning, the second group requires search and the third group demands good reading skills.
Planning of your research should start with your assignment task. Read your assignment topic and description several times until you remember well what you are going to write about. Then think of what information you need to complete the task and outline it in a form of questions and thesis lines. This outline will help you to not wander while searching the information needed. Moreover, the preliminary outlines can usually present the structure of your future essay that helps you find out what exact words, phrases, articles and related topics you need to search.
Once you have finished with your planning and outline you may start searching information. Here your computer user skills are extremely necessary because present days libraries, encyclopedias, reviews, critiques, articles and other support materials are available online. Such large online libraries as Encyclopaedia Britannica, Wikipedia and others contain continuously updated and extensive information in almost all areas of study and research. However, use online encyclopedias for searching definitions and explanations only. If you are willing to use encyclopedia articles do not copy them, try to use your own phrases and express your own understanding of the terms. This will help you avoid plagiarism and develop your analytical, vocabulary and structuring skills. For more information try search engines which provide immediate search results from hundred thousand of sources available online. At present times such search engines as google and yahoo work well for extensive and useful search results. Once you have got search results do not download everything you open onto your computer! There will be thousands of results when you need just a few to support your essay. To find out which sources will be needful start reading the online material the search engine has found for you. Here good reading skills come.
Before start reading remember the assignment task, topic and description, and review your outlines. Then open the sources offered by search engines as a result of your words and phrases search. As you are presented by thousands of search results the particular reading skills are needed. To find useful information quickly do not read the whole article or a book chapter. For articles you may use headlines and first-and-last sentences reading. Online books often have outlines, summaries and reviews which help you find the very chapter, paragraph or sentence to be used. Once you have found interesting and useful abstracts download them on your computer in one file ? you will have a one document which will contain quotes, abstracts and comments to support your essay. While reading what you have gathered highlight the most important statements and leave your own comments in brackets (outlines will help you find out which statement should be used in each paragraph of your own essay). Then read the support materials document again to interpret collected material in your own statements and phrases. If you feel the author presented ideas better than you did, use quotes and cite this author properly in your essay.