Research: Even My Grandson Can Google

By:  Marilyn L. Davis


“Research is something that everyone can do, and everyone ought to do. It is simply collecting information and thinking systematically about it. The word ‘research’ carries overtones of abstruse statistics and complex methods, white coats and computers. Some social research is highly specialized but most is not; much of the best research is logically very straightforward. . .” Raewyn Connell

 

Blogs and Research: Even Kids are Fascinated

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Today we must all spend time researching before we write. However, even my nine-year old grandson is required to do research for his papers, and yes, Google is his first go-to, but as an adult writer, shouldn’t we be looking for the unusual, value-added information besides the first offering? There is a wealth of quality information available through many sources. 
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Our job as a writer is to take the time to find it, and that means going beyond the first listing on Google. Nor is Wikipedia the authority on all subjects.
Research is:
  •       Systematic investigation to establish facts
  •       Specialized Inquiry about the subject
  •       Exploration of the various aspects of the subject

Although the Internet provides an international platform to write about anything, readers have come to expect interesting content, images that reinforce the words, and quality information. It is not enough to have an opinion or even some knowledge about the subject as the writer. We have to give readers better-developed information in the post or readers will leave.

Aldous Huxley, a leading essayist, gives guidance on the subject. He notes, “The essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything”, and adds, “By tradition, almost by definition, the essay is a short piece.”  Regardless that many sites accept short pieces or that most blog posts are under 2,000 words, we can still give our readers quality research and add interest and value to the post, with short, well-researched pieces.

Typically, a writer will approach a topic that they are interested in and as such, may have a working knowledge of the subject. However, readers are more sophisticated, educated and informed today, and as such, know a cut and paste, a rehash of last week’s news, or if the post is redundant and cliché ridden. As of January 6, 2014, 92% of the population has at least some college, and 97% have advanced degrees.   I can assume that many of those populations also wrote a research paper, and as such, they know what actual research entails. Since I am hoping to attract this audience, I am obliged to give them quality, researched information, and not rely on just my personal knowledge of the subject. 

However, for those of us who have done freelance writing, we are often hired to write about subjects where we have little knowledge, and that’s where quality research makes the difference.

We typically got those jobs because someone liked the writing style or the care and attention that we put into our research. Style of writing is individual and isn’t easily defined, and research can be as varied as our style, and go beyond the usual fare. So, where can we find unique information to keep readers interested?  

All I have to do is remember my grandson’s delight when we did his first search.

Wide-eyed, he told me, “Nana, there’s a whole lot about dinosaurs on the Internet.”  Yes, there is. 

Look from Multiple Perspectives

The Internet contains at least 4.67 billion pages according to worldwidewebsize.com, so there is a wealth of information available on any topic. However, the key to finding adjunct, usable, and interesting information is to know how to search, and understand the two distinct perspectives- for the writer and the reader. 
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The Writer Needs
  1. Relevant search results that add value to the post.
  2. Organized searches.
  3. Time to explore additional facts. 
  4. Options, like advanced searches, to broaden the article or add depth.

The Reader Needs: The Results from Searches like: 

  1. Value-added information
  2. Multiple examples
  3. Various illustrations of the points of the post

question-answer

Satisfying the Reader and Writer

When I research, I try to process a search from the standpoint of the writer and the reader, by asking questions geared to each perspective. I initially ask, “How would a reader search for this information”? When I get the information, I can then creatively write about it.

However, refining a search from a writer’s perspective means that my searches are broader or more specialized. Trying to incorporate additional information, means that I have to understand that Google does not index every page As such, I have to find other sources when I research. Each of the following has provided me with interesting and decidedly different perspectives on a subject, which in turn means I have distinctive posts.   

Be sure to include images that reinforce the message of the post without being boring. This is another aspect of blogging where readers are more sophisticated today. Clip-art won’t do. You might add charts, tables, SmartArt, or Infograms; ones that enhance your piece but do not overpower the information. When you use a creative combination of words, style, tone, and images, you are creating your individualized approach to any post. All of these become, your brand

So Much Info – So Little Time – Make It Count

The next time you choose a topic, take the time to research, find unique and different information for the readers. I realize that people do not want the top 1,000 search engines, however, knowing there is information out there that Google does not index means that I have resources that will add unique information for the reader. According to Worldometers, there were 1,578,181 blogs and counting the day I wrote this. Granted, I do not have information on which of these is about researching, however, I can assume that there are interesting blogs and posts that might attract readers specific to research. Therefore, I’ll strive to create better creative nonfiction posts and that in turn will attract readers who might turn into loyal followers and subscribers. 

Keep Track of Your Research Sites

 files on computer
When I found interesting information, I added it to my research website file. Keeping track of your best research sites means that if you are niche writing, you have a convenient list of reliable resources for the next post handy.

And always remember the words of great writers and that nine-year old authority, “Nana, there’s a whole lot about dinosaurs on that Internet”, and have fun researching.

See if you don’t get more information into your next post with this approach.

 

 

Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing

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