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 are not; much of the best research is logically very straightforward. . .” Raewyn Connell
Blogs and Research: Even Kids Know Google
Today we must all spend time researching before we write.
Even my eleven-year-old grandson is required to research his papers, and yes, Google is his first go-to, but as an adult writer, shouldn’t we be looking for the information besides the first offering?
There is a wealth of quality information available through many sources. Our job as a writer is to take the time to find it. Often, that means going beyond the first listing on Google. Nor is Wikipedia the authority on all subjects.
- Systematic investigation to establish facts
- Specialized Inquiry about the subject
- Exploration of the various aspects of the topic, issue, or problem
What Readers Want from the Writer’s Research
Although the Internet provides an international platform to write about anything, readers have come to expect compelling 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.
Therefore, we should make every effort to give our readers quality, researched information, and not rely on just personal knowledge of the subject.
Research for an Unfamiliar Topic
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 a few years ago. Wide-eyed, he told me, “Nana, there’s a whole lot about dinosaurs on the Internet.” Yes, there is.
Look from Multiple Perspectives
The key to finding usable, and interesting information is to know how to research and understand the two distinct perspectives – for the writer and the reader.
Research for Writers
- Relevant search results that add value to the post
- Organized searches
- Time to explore additional facts
- Options, like advanced searches, to broaden the article or add depth
Research for Readers
- Value-added information
- Multiple examples
- Various illustrations of the points of the post
Satisfying Research for 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.
- https://archive.org/ (the Internet Archives for older web pages and articles)
Research Visuals that Reinforce the Message
Be sure to include images that reinforce the message of the post without being boring. The computer, tablet, coffee cup, pen, and the paper image won’t do; readers are more sophisticated today, and the clip-art from years ago won’t do, either.
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 resources that will add unique information for the reader. Click To Tweet
According to Worldometers, there were 1,640,181 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 some interesting blogs and posts 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
When I find 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 handy list of reliable resources for the next post.
Always remember the words of great writers and that eleven-year-old research authority, and have fun researching.
See if you don’t get more information into your next post with this approach.
Bio: Marilyn L. Davis
As the editor-in-chief at Two Drops of Ink, Marilyn wants to encourage other writers to share their creativity and talents. She believes in the power of words and knows that how something is said is just as important as what is said.
Her focus at Two Drops of Ink is to provide readers with posts that entertain, educate, and enchant them with memoir, fiction, writing advice, punctuation problems, grammar shorts, and poetry.
Editing, revising, finding the bones, and taking the time to develop posts with writers is something she enjoys, because she understands that Two Drops of Ink is a collaborative effort, and that takes teamwork.
A recovery curriculum author with 31 years of abstinence-based recovery, she advocates for and writes to the addicted population. Her recovery curriculum, Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery System (TIERS) offers time-tested exercises for healing. It was used in the award-winning recovery home she opened for women in 1990, as well as Accountability Courts and other recovery homes.
Closing the house in 2011, gave her the opportunity to spread the message that recovery works to a larger audience online. Her other blog, From Addict 2 Advocate explores addiction, recovery, making positive changes, and codependency.
Her primary focus is writing so that more addicts and their families can end their struggles with addiction. She does this through reflective writing, memoir, and sharing her darkest moments so that those still suffering from addictions can know a person who got out of the vicious cycle.
She hopes that through her writing, she encourages the addicted population to make changes and become the best person they can be.
Marilyn is a regular guest writer at The Sober World and Keys to Recovery Newspaper.
Woman of the Year awarded to Marilyn in 2018 meant that her words about the struggles with addiction and the joys of recovery reached thousands on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.
She was given the Hero Award in 2017 for her writing on Facebook pages about addiction and recovery. Her passions for writing, recovery, and helping others means that collaboration works for any type of blog.
Friends of Recovery Book Reviewers group awarded her “Best Addiction Writer” of the year in 2016.
In 2010, she was awarded the Liberty Bell Award by the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, given to non-attorneys for contributions to the criminal justice system and communities.
Brenau University created the Marilyn Davis Community Service Learning Award in 2008: an ongoing award given to individuals advocating for mental health, wellness, and recovery.
She began advocating for rehabilitation rather than incarceration for non-violent offenders in 1990 and continues to provide treatment services in her job as Program Director at a men’s facility in Georgia.
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
What are you researching? What interests you? Two Drops of Ink is a literary blog that is accepting submissions. Entertain, educate, and enchant us with a guest submission.