The Importance of Hard Skills: Search and Synthesize

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The search and synthesis of information. This particular skill is one that often goes unnoticed in most tasks, although it's commonly found. It is the "process" by which we delve into the deep web and pull out relevant information, and summarizing and synthesizing it into presentable material. Since we grow up utilizing this skill countless times throughout our education, it's extremely likely we take it for granted, and don't necessarily think about how we can improve it. By specifically allocating your focus on improving this task, no matter how "good" one might be at it, a higher efficiency in tasks can be attained.

This post will talk briefly about finding and summarizing information in the most efficient way.

Before the Search

This skill requires an understanding of several things before the search begins:

1. Wikipedia should never act as a stand-alone reference, as it is an open-source database.

2. Effective skimming of long texts is extremely important.

3. Organizing one's thoughts in an effective manner will make a good synthesis become great.

4. Having a clear and concise understanding of what you're looking for will expedite the process.

Understanding this before conducting any search is paramount.

During the Search

When conducting the search, taking notes on a Word document in order to organize your thoughts and findings will help the synthesis process come more easily. Organizing the findings appropriately will not only make the task aesthetically-pleasing, but it will also allow you to draw conjectures and correlations that jumbled thoughts on scratch paper would not.

Teachers and educators:

How can we efficiently teach this and explicitly improve this overlooked skill in the classroom? I've thought about an assignment that calls for conducting multiple web searches of eclectic topics, and asking them to synthesize and present their findings in different forms: tables, charts, short essays, etc. What other ways could this be taught, and what would it do for their careers in the future?

Steven Yang is a 3rd year undergraduate student at the Haas School of Business. Contact him at [email protected] for further contact/inquiries.

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