Have I improved my research?

Looking back over the second year and comparing it to my first year I have to say that I have noticed my research has changed. I went through the first essay I submitted in my first year recently and I was amazed. I still don’t understand what made me use non-peer-reviewed resources. I cited a blog that was full of personal opinions, and that shouldn’t have happened since I was writing a scientific essay on influence. My grade corresponded with the references my essay was based on (yeah, it wasn’t great).
Doing research now, I stay away from resources that are not written in a scientific manner. The first place for me to go to would either be Study Direct (VLE) or library search. Both provide papers from scientific articles that are peer-reviewed and would be a proper source of information. A small difference between the two is that Study Direct offers references to articles only, while library search gets me to full articles instantly.
However, me not referencing non-peer-reviewed articles, doesn’t mean I don’t use them. I do. I almost always start with Google Search, which usually leads me to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is one of the sites I use to get a broader idea of the topics I should cover in my coursework, but would not cite it. Simply, because it being an open encyclopaedia (that anyone can edit), lacks the scientific background that has become a necessity in my essay over the last year.
To that end I tend to start reading more widely and narrow my point of focus as I do my research. I feel that that hasn’t been the case last year. Honestly, my essays were structured poorly, paragraphs often wouldn’t be semantically connected, and even though I did a fair amount of research, it felt like something was missing. The devil is in the details and using more specific/directed articles helps me be more critical when discussing the essay question.
You probably think how bad my grades were last year, well, they weren’t. The expectations are definitely lower for a fresher, and I couldn’t get away this year with mistakes I did last year. Thankfully I know how to be critical and I know that by comparing coursework from both years will only help me improve.

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