Strengths Approach to Research


The University of Minnesota provided new students access to take the Gallup Strengths from 2011-2016. This page was created based on those results and a students "Top 5." What are your strengths? Strengths can be used to support your academic and library work from picking a topic for a research paper to finding the sources you need to citing. There are many ways to go about doing research -- having an awareness of different ways to do it--will help. Research in metacognition tells us that having an awareness of your strengths before you begin a task or project can help you to learn more effectively. Below is information about ways to use your unique strengths to do academic and library research more effectively, efficiently and even enjoyably. 

Find your strength below



Enjoy hard work and being productive


Turning thoughts into actions

  • Pick a topic for a cause or organization you are involved with such as a service learning, volunteer or student group. Base your topic on how you can solve a problem or learn more about an issue in front of something in your real life or something you feel passionate about.
  • Think of research as an active investigation and a way to learn more about something in your real life.
  • Work to get a draft done and then share it with others for constructive feedback.
  • Discuss your topic ideas with your instructor during office hours and clarify assignment requirements.


Go with the flow

  • Consider research as an adventure and enjoy the meandering path to learning. Research isn’t a race-your flexibility can lessen frustration when you don’t find exactly what you are looking for. Instead take time to enjoy finding something unexpected. Adjust and flex your topic based on the research you find. You are not stuck in one way of thinking.
  • Pick a topic which has potential for humor, irony and look for ways to connect the unexpected.
  • Do your research in the Libraries when you need to focus and give your full attention and find a quiet spot to concentrate.


Search for reason and causes.

  • Pick topics about questions/problems you want to know the answers to and that you are already curious about.
  • Use a wide variety of sources for research including data, facts, mapsprimary sources, etc. and use this to dig deeper into the topic and to inform your thinking on the topic.
  • Look for cause and effect relationships in your research such as in scientific discoveries, ethical lapses, legal judgements.
  • Critically evaluate what you read and question an author’s conclusions.
  • Draw mind maps to illustrate how your sub-topics, facts and ideas fit together.
  • Identify your own biases before taking sides on an issue. Research all sides of an issue.


Figure out how all the pieces are organized

  • Note dates on a calendar. Use the Assignment Calculator.
  • Consider where environmentally you work best.
  • Plan fun activities as a reward for yourself after you complete tasks such as turning in a research project.
  • Break down your project into separate pieces.


Core values that are unchanging

  • Select research project topics that appeal to your core values
  • Consider learning more about individuals who have stood for noble causes
  • Be aware and explore opposing points of views


Take control and make decisions

  • Jot down questions while you do research as questioning accelerates your learning.
  • Challenge facts and do more research to uncover the truth.
  • Consider research a debate and research all sides of an issue then use this to make a decision on your own conclusions.


Easily put your thoughts into words

  • Talk with friends and classmates about topics you are interested in. Use these conversations to shape and refine your topic.
  • Visit office hours to talk with your instructor about your topic ideas or what you have found in your research.
  • Consider cross purposing your research--if you have another class in which you need to do a presentation or speech -- use the research paper for a different angle.
  • Remember writing is putting your thoughts in writing. Think of a research paper as a speech or presentation and develop an outline in this way.


Strive to win first place and enjoy contests

  • Clarify how the points are given in research papers by your instructor and spend time on the project accordingly
  • Work to find an unusual topic that will challenge you instead of an “easy” topic or work to find unusual or unexpected sources (e.g. archival letter, video, interview, etc.)
  • Become a master on your topic and strive to gather deep knowledge of the subject.
  • Look for opportunities to submit your paper to the instructor as a model to share with future students or for campus awards.
  • Consider looking at opportunities to publish your writing in a school publication, for a professional organization or for an outside publication.


Enjoy links between all things

  • Select research topics that speak to your greater purpose and life goals. Select topics that allow you to make connections to the greater community, world or historical events.
  • Use freewriting as a strategy and focus on making connections between ideas and research on a topic.
  • Make connections between authors or scholars on a topic. Look at the bibliography or a tool like Web of Science or Google Scholar which lets you see who has cited whom.
  • Look for study spot in the Libraries that have a calm atmosphere.
  • Help fellow students see connections to help their own research topics.


Seek to treat people the same. Set up rules and adhere to them.

  • Understand your research project and how points will be given.
  • Use the Assignment Calculator to plan out the research and writing steps to complete your project.
  • Balance facts gathered in research and focus on being objective. Create an outline to map out paper.
  • Work to set up a routine when you get a new research paper assignment and follow those steps each time. Adjusting as needed.


Enjoy thinking about the past.

  • Pick research topics which allow you to explore the past. For example -- Use a history database to search history journals.
  • Study specific events, personalities or periods of history. Research political, natural, cultural aspects.
  • Use the Libraries to find additional readings to support or give additional historical background on class topics.
  • Consider exploring our Archives or Special Collections for a deeper look at the past and discover unique sources of information (e.g. public records, surveys, letters or legislation). Use unexpected sources of information such as photographs, paintings, blueprints, films, costumes, recipes, etc. These items will bring history to life.
  • Work on a digital history project either your own or help to collect histories of others.
  • If looking for a research mentor, use the Libraries to read the articles or writings of a potential mentor such as their doctoral dissertation, lectures, speeches, articles, etc.
  • Consider enhancing a research paper by creating a narrative from the perspective of a person during that historical time period or a historical figure.


Anticipate obstacles. Take care in making decisions or choices.

  • Prepare assignments in advance of due dates. Try the Assignment Calculator.
  • Review research paper assignments and flag potential obstacles. Make a plan to overcome them.
  • Set aside enough time for research. Do a complete job of research and reading.
  • Be aware that settling on one topic may be challenging so do preliminary research on multiple topics. Then decide.


Cultivate the potential in others. See improvements in others.

  • Select a few possible research topics. Do preliminary topics then explain to a friend or fellow student about what you have learned to help select a topic.
  • Become a tutor or help someone else in class in their research or writing.
  • Reflect on the sources you have selected and track how these have increase your own knowledge on the topic.
  • Talk to your mentor about your research to reinforce what you have learned and to clarify your own thoughts on the topic.
  • Reflect upon what you have learned in your research paper and how that has impacted you.


Enjoy routine and structure. Create order.

  • Understand your research project and how points will be given.
  • Use the Assignment Calculator to plan out the research and writing steps to complete your project.
  • If the project is large scale, develop your own structure to meet the class requirements.
  • Make an outline to break down a topic into parts. Work on and complete those parts individually.
  • Because you strive for an organized space for studying, consider studying in the Libraries.


Sense the feelings of others. Imagine yourself in other’s situations or lives.

  • When possible, pick a topic involving people or historic figures.
  • As you find sources, find out more about the authors such as their presence on social media, blogs, or research groups, etc.
  • Be aware that research can be like a roller coaster with high points and low points.
  • Imagine yourself in the place of the person or situation you are researching. Learn from this approach as you writing your paper.
  • Consider enhancing a research paper by creating a narrative from the perspective of a person impacted by the topic you are writing about.


Prioritize, then act. Stay on track.

  • Use the Assignment Calculator to plan out the research and writing steps to complete your project.
  • Work with instructor to modify assignment to align it to your practical values if possible.
  • Before doing research -- lists your accomplishments for that session of research.
  • Outline the main points you plan to research and write about.
  • Try to focus on one part of a large research paper at a time.


Visualize, but then use tools to manage deadlines.

  • As someone who is fascinated by the future, share your grandiose ideas or perspectives when doing group research projects.
  • Use your ability to visualize a final product as a launching pad.
  • Consider creating a structured outline to your research and map out what is needed to complete each part.
  • Do not get stuck in the dreaming and visualizing state. Consider using a tool like an Assignment Calculator to stay on schedule.


Find common ground. Be aware of opposing views.

  • As someone who attempts to find common ground, be aware of opposing viewpoints in scholarly communication.
  • Try Points of View Reference Center, a library database.
  • When evaluating information sources, consider authority and credibility.
  • Seek out group projects that may benefit from your stability, calmness, and productivity.


Enjoy generating ideas during topic development, but don’t forget to focus on other required tasks.

  • Since you are fascinated by ideas, topic development should be fun for you. Engage with other imaginative peers to brainstorm concepts.
  • Keep a journal where you capture all of your creative ideas.
  • You may struggle with narrowing your topic. Try to focus on depth, not breadth.
  • The Assignment Calculator may help you stay on task and meet deadlines.
  • When presenting your findings, look for creative ways like new presentation software or infographics.


Be social and consider study space options that work for you.

  • Since you enjoy social interaction and thrive at making others feel included be sure to have a social component to your research process.
  • Meet in a social environment like a library or coffee shop to discuss findings.
  • Encourage reserved or shy peers to share their findings and viewpoints.


Consider different points of view. Pair and share.

  • You excel at finding the distinctions between people. Consider qualitative research such as observation and ethnography.
  • Since you enjoy learning about different points of view, pair and share while researching and writing.
  • Try Points of View Reference Center, a library database.
  • Consider meeting with a Peer Research Consultant. When writing, think about the uniqueness of contribution to the field of study.


Search, stay organized, and use tools to manage your time.

  • You love collecting information. This will be beneficial in the information gathering stage of research and report writing. Search in the library catalog and databases.
  • Use recommended citation managers for organizing your gathered notes, documents, and citations.
  • Since you crave information, keep in mind that you may need to switch gears to writing or creation mode. Use the Assignment Calculator to help you manage your time.


Study where you are most productive, and track your progress.

  • As someone who is introspective, you may benefit from keeping a research journal. Keep track of what keywords and library databases have been successful.
  • Be mindful of study spaces where you have been most productive. Consider quiet or group study spaces in the University Libraries.
  • Since you likely enjoy reading, find all of the materials that will help you with your research.
  • Seek out help from your subject librarian if you are having trouble locating information information.
  • Consider citation managers like Zotero to help you organize your information.


Select new and exciting topics. Consider your study space options.

  • As someone who loves to learn, dive right in.
  • Since you love new information, select research topics that are new and exciting to you. Others may be intimidated by unfamiliar topics, but you thrive in this environment.
  • If you prefer quiet spaces when reading or writing, check out the quiet study spaces in the University Libraries .
  • Strive to stay focused on your selected topic as opposed to veering off into other exciting topics of interest.


Help peers maximize talents. Find mentors.

  • You are productive and have high expectations. Focus on your research talents, whatever they may be, and use them to benefit your discipline or community.
  • In group research projects, help your peers maximize their talents.
  • Find mentors in professors, librarians, and community members; these relationships will be most beneficial if you value their wisdom.


Use tools to set goal deadlines. Consider productive study spaces.

  • Regardless of setbacks during the research process, you tend to react positively.
  • Set incremental goals and use the Assignment Calculator. Celebrate after each achievement.
  • Since you work best in relaxed, social environments, consider researching and writing in public spaces like University Libraries.
  • Select research topics that are exciting to you and your interests.


Work in groups. Take social breaks.

  • Since you value relationships, work with others during the research process. Seek input and assistance from librarians, professors, and Peer Research Consultants.
  • If your research focus is very independant, reach out to others for periodic social breaks.
  • You are interested in personalities and character; consider this when selecting research topics.


Ethically use information. Find the best sources for your project.

  • Your focus on ethics will guide you to make ethical decisions about properly citing your sources. For assistance, we recommend using library citation managers.
  • Since you thrive on responsibility, go the extra mile with finding the best primary and secondary sources in library databases.
  • Take the lead on group research projects.


Solve problems. Research is an iterative process.

  • As a natural problem solver, think about your research as a problem that needs to be solved.
  • Analyze the problem as well as your research workflow.
  • Searching is a strategic exploration. Use library databases.
  • After finishing a draft, ask a peer to review for gaps. Make an effort to be comprehensive and complete by filling in the gaps and correcting the problems.


Be challenged. Solve problems.

  • Since you enjoy being challenged, select a topic that others may find problematic.
  • Trust your instincts when selecting paper topics and citation managers.
  • You may want to follow your intuition when evaluating sources. Be skeptical about things like authority and credibility.
  • Keyword searching is often trial and error, and this works well for you because you are able to bounce back from adversity.


Share your research. Scholarship is a conversation.

  • Since you enjoy exposure, consider publishing in a journal or presenting on your research at a conference.
  • Consider selecting unique topics where you may be publicly recognized for unique contributions.
  • Pair up with peers and faculty members with similar research interests.


Searching is strategic exploration. Be persistent.

  • Since working backward from a goal works well for you, consider this approach to research.
  • Envision the final product but also realize that topics and themes often evolve during the research and writing process.
  • Be aware that searching is a complex process.
  • Select research projects that coincide with your creative thinking or creative problem solving.


Research happens in a variety of spaces. Exchange ideas.

  • Write and research in social environments like libraries and coffee shops. Find a University Libraries space that works for you.
  • Share ideas with your classmates since you find interacting with other people to be energizing.
  • Exchange ideas within your social network.
  • Consider that scholarship is a conversation. You are engaging in scholarly communication when adding your research to the discipline.
Last Updated: Jan 25, 2024 12:35 PM