Write the Facts – Top Ways To Sharpen Your Research Skills
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “write what you know.” And, while that does help if you’re a prolific writer, it can also limit your writing opportunities when you’re first starting out. It’s not that the truism is wrong, it’s that you have to expand your sphere of knowledge so that “what you know” is a lot more than what you know right now. Here’s how to do that.
Start With A Targeted Internet Search
The first thing you want to do with a new subject is do a targeted Internet search about it. If it’s a popular topic, there will be plenty of hits on the first page of Google that will give you a good overview of what you need to know.
You won’t be able to get all of the information you need, but it’s a good place to start. Don’t spend more than a day or two doing this. From there, delve deeper by hiring a research firm.
Hire A Research Firm
Unless you’re a professional researcher, your best bet is to hire a research firm that can dig up all of the nitty-gritty details about the topic you’re studying. Firms, like Ivory Research, will pretty much do all of the heavy lifting for you. You can even get them to write the report or paper for you, but most of the time you’ll want to be involved with the project on some level.
A research firm can also help you pull together resources that you might not otherwise get your hands on. So, if you hire the firm, and then request all documents, you can permanently expand your research library for the future.
Absorb The Subject Matter
Don’t make the mistake that a lot of writers do – they only search for written texts on the subject. Absorb everything from movies, documentaries, and lectures. Odds are, there’s a lot of source material out there that’s not in written form.
For example, if you’re doing a paper on the life and history of Jesus or Christianity, you might turn to The Great Courses for professional lectures given by university professors. The Great Courses sells college-level courses on specific topics that you can pick up for less than the actual cost of the course. In a sense, you’ll be getting the best possible education about the subject matter – an education you simply cannot get elsewhere.
Let It Stew
After you’ve absorbed enough source material, you should let the ideas sit and “stew” in your mind. This is a time when the creative process starts. Put everything away, and relax. Consider going for a hike, or for a boat ride, or just sitting around playing video games.
The idea is to relax and let the ideas permeate your mind. This helps eliminate the stress of writing, and it also primes your subconscious for the writing process. It’s an intuitive process, and you’ll probably get a feel for when it’s time to put the pen to paper. However, if you need general guidelines, wait at least 3 days before you attempt to write anything – especially if you’ve been studying intensively for a week or more.
Jenny Wescott is a dissertation researcher. She is always looking for ways to make her research and writing tasks more efficient and accurate. She also enjoys sharing her ideas online.
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