by Terreece Clarke
Deb’s note: I don’t usually bust in to other people’s blog posts like this, but won’t you help me welcome Terreece Clarke as our newest blogger and winner of the FWJ Idol contest?
I love Google. A quick Google search can often make all the difference in the world, but when it comes to an article, you need little more.
When writers research, whether it’s for a book, or an article or for a client, we need to look beyond the information found on Google’s famous pages. A search engine can be a great starting point, allowing you to get the general scope of the subject, but to go deeper you will need to get to those who specialize in the subject whether it’s through interviews, published research papers or books.
Lovin’ the Library
Most public libraries have great online resources allowing you to not only search through their catalog and reserve items, but you can also look through electronic journals. There will come a point, however, you may have to (gasp) leave the house to pick up the materials.
Colleges, universities and trade schools have gobs of experts just sitting around being experts of everything. Writing an article on picking a preschool? Look through the education department’s web site for the chair of the early child development department. Pitching an article on automotive care or picking a mechanic? The local community college or trade school will have experts in auto care that not only can fix a carborator, but are practiced in introducing and expounding on the subject for an audience.
Don’t forget the schools’ libraries as well. Often they will have a pretty extensive online collection that is open to the public.
Because of the large number of books made available to this online retailer, Amazon will often have books, including e-books, that are not available locally where bookstores, libraries and schools have limited storage resources. You don’t have to buy every book on the subject you’re interested in, but you can mine the listings for authors who can then become interview subjects.
Saucy Sources and Social Networking
Put your sources to work for you. Ask if they’ve got a go-to guy or gal in the field that could be used as a source. Ask about their mentor or if it is a subject with two competing sides find out who disagrees with them.
One quick Tweet could put you in touch with a hard-to-reach author or expert. Use your social network contacts to put out an “all points bulletin,” you’ll be amazed at what will turn up.
The Nutty ‘Net
While you can supplement your research with books, sometimes scouring the net is the only way to get the quickest, most up-to-date information, especially if the subject has a hot new angle. A few things to be aware of when searching:
- Try a combination of search words.
- Be careful of who is providing the information – we all know that anyone can write anything for the web and claim to be an expert.
- Be careful on the slant of the information provided.
Got great research tips? Share ‘em! What are your top 2 fav ways to research? Where do you go when all else fails?
I am so happy to be a part of the FWJ community. While the focus of my work here will be on article writing, much of the information provided will be applicable to many different types of writers. I will even slide in some press release info – I got so much positive feedback on that area. I mean “technically” it is still a type of article, right Deb? :0)