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Resources for Research

As a writer, you will frequently need to do research for your articles or books. Even if you write fiction, you will need to do research to make your story believable or to give some history. One source of information will very rarely meet the researcher’s needs. Here is a list of ten tried-and-true sources of information that I use often for research.

Wikipedia (and other Internet resources): Most people know about Wikipedia. For those that don’t, Wikipedia is an on-line encyclopedia where all of the entries are written by the users. As with all user generated content, there can be some wrong information, but Wikipedia is policed by the users and by the website’s staff, so most of the information is correct. You can also find just about any kind of information you want all over the Internet.

Read previously written books and articles. Don’t trust the information in fiction, but non-fiction sources are usually trustworthy. Stay away from using any sources that seem to be untrustworthy and if you are not 100% sure about a piece of information, check it with a second, unrelated source to be sure.

Encyclopedias are extremely good sources of information for a wide variety of topics. These are very trustworthy. Many people cannot afford a set of encyclopedias because they are expensive, but every library has at least 2 full sets for anyone to use. You may have to spend some time at the library, but it is worth it. And you may even come up with new topics to write about.

If you are doing something about a company or it’s products, Use the company itself as a source. Many times, you can get press releases and other information. You may even be able to get an interview with someone.

Ask an expert. Scientific, medical, archaeological, and other types of professional information is best to get straight from an expert. It is also wise to quote them in your work whenever possible. This gives a lot more credibility to your work.

Draw on your personal experience. This works best for reviews, human interest pieces, and how-to pieces. You know what your experience is better than anyone else. It’s like doing an interview with yourself.

Go do it yourself: This is different from drawing from your experience in one way: you don’t already know what it’s like. This is the best way to obtain information about such things as sports-especially extreme sports, how-to articles, and many other kinds of articles. If you don’t go find out for yourself, how are you going to be able to tell you readers, for instance, everything about sky-diving, including what it feels like to jump out of the plane, or how frustrating it is to make a bookcase out of wood laying in your backyard?

The TV is a great source for research. I watch a lot of programs that give me ideas and information about a subject I am interested in writing. The History Channel and the Discovery Channel are the best sources for non-fiction information that I have found so far. And any channel can be used when writing about a Television program, provided that the show you are writing about is on that channel.

The radio is also a great place to do research on. There are many talk shows that give great info, and of course, you could always write about music.

Newspapers are the best way to get information on current and upcoming events. You can get information on local as well as national news.

It is best to use more than one source of information for your article or book, That way, you can make sure that you have all of your facts straight.

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