Regarding Research

This entry is part 20 of the series Build a Better Blog

Today we’re still working through the alphabet with the A to Z Challenge. We’re going to look at a fun topic which will work for any blogger, whether you are an author, an entrepreneur, or a family member. We’re continuing with Build a Better Blog and today we’re going to look at

R is for Regarding Research.

If you’re an author, I don’t need to tell you how much research you need to do to be sure you have your facts correct or to find inspiration for building your countries or characters.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there are so many places you can go for ideas to work on your craft or hobby. And if you’re doing a family blog, you can look for background to significant locations, or look up genealogy sites for family history.

So how do we go about it?

  • Praise God for the Internet!

    • I think back to my first days of writing and the amount of time taken up visiting the library and scouring through thick books as I researched information. Yet today, Google™ has made it all much easier.
    • Where before we may have tended to write about topics we knew about, now we can step right out the box and tackle any subject that intrigues us. In my previous A to Z Challenge, I gave an example about the Serengeti, a fascinating part of our continent I’d never heard of. Because I heard my brother and sister-in-law were going there, and because I knew nothing about it, I decided to turn to Google™ for my research, and what an amazing resource it proved to be.
Can you blog about topics you know nothing about? Surprise answer. #atozchallenge Click To Tweet
  • Beware of certain dangers with Google™!

    • Remember that the material on Google is often not written by experts, and it may be wrong. You need to check references and make sure you agree before you quote them.
    • Also be careful how you word your writing. Make it clear if you’re quoting someone, and give them credit including a URL if possible.
    • Be careful of plagiarism. Google™ is a great source of information, but you need to write it in your own words, or see above point.
    • Beware of grabbing photographs. Read more about that under Go to Google and Interesting Images.
  • A blog is an ideal place to share your research.

    • You can ask others for further information. Once again, bear in mind, your friends and visitors are not likely to be experts.
    • Are you writing a themed novel? You can share information you learn that may or may not end up in your story. Ask visitors for further input. Intrigue your readers so they will want to learn more and be eager to read your book.
  • Use your blog to get personal reactions to situations or locations.

    • Local Situations: eg. the Rwanda Genocide in 2014: If you want your hero to come across a woman who survived this genocide, it is not an easy scene for you to imagine. Why not write a blog post? Give some background to what you want to know, and ask if anyone experienced this. You are likely to only get one or two responses to a question like this, but you can then arrange to make contact with them to get first hand information.
    • This will be way more than something your imagination, no matter how creative, could dream up.
  • Compile a few questions on the topic you want to research.

    • Ask everyone you know to visit and answer.
    • Put your answers in a Y/N format, or a 1-5, 1 being not at all and 5 being absolutely love it. That will encourage people to respond. Many of your visitors will not want to leave you a long response.
  • Don’t stop at the first layer of facts.

    •  Say you want to write about a Bible character—let’s say Jacob. You read his story in your Bible and you’re eager to get started. Stop. Google his name, then try “during the time of Jacob” or “the cultures during Jacob’s life”. Read from some reputable sites or well-known authors and see what they can tell you.
    • Each time you read a fact, query it and dig deeper, until you feel you know more about Jacob than most experts.
    • Read the Bible again to refresh your memories, and I guarantee you’ll read it in a new light. Now you’re ready to write about Jacob!
When you blog, you need to write for a cross-cultural audience. #atozchallenge Click To Tweet
  • Want to write a how-to?

    • This could be for your family, for the general public, or for a book. Check your facts, your measurements, and your international English! Give alternate measurements, metric and imperial. My research tells me the only countries that cling to the imperial measurements are Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States of America. But the U.S.A. is a biggy! So if you want your writing understood globally, better help them out by giving the alternative values. Or use universal measurements like “1 cup or 3 tablespoons”. But when it comes to measuring distances, better give the feet and inches as well as the kilometres and centimetres.
    • How do you do this? Easy! Type in what you want in a search bar and it’ll give you the answer at once. e.g. I’ve just typed 7 metres in feet into a search bar on Google and immediately got 7 metres = 22,9659 feet. (Added later) This is so funny. In a comment below, Anne points out my apparent error! I put a comma instead of a period. In American English this should read 22.9659 feet! (Thank you Ann!) However, in S.Africa we use a comma instead of a period. One of the joys of international writing! So to be clear: 7 metres is nearly twenty-three feet! 🙂  
Fahrenheit or Centigrade? Which should I use in my blog? #atozchallenge Click To Tweet
  • Use the previous tip if you are following a pattern or recipe from another country.

    • e.g. If I was baking a cake and it told me to cook it at 325 Fh – and I ignored the Fh and just set my South African oven to 325, my cake would be a guaranteed disaster! Why? Because when I type 325 Fh into my search bar it tells me that’s 162,778 degrees Celsius.

Build a Better BlogWhat other tips do you have for research?

What tools do you especially find helpful?

Please add your suggestions in a comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 FURTHER POSTS TO READ:

  • Fact or Fiction
  • Go for Google
  • Harnessing Hashtags
  • Interesting Images
  • Joy of Journaling
  • K for Kindle and KDP
  • L is for Live and Learn
  • M is for Marketing Methods
  • N is for Nuggets and News
  • O is for Ongoing Opportunities
  • P is for Plan with Purpose
  • Q is for Quest for Quality
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Special offer on Kindle Publishing Made Easy, a hands-on course. Expires end April. #atozchallenge Click To Tweet

29 comments on “Regarding Research

  1. Visiting from A to Z. I enjoy your advice.

    Not sure I believe you though when you say “I’ve just typed 7 metres in feet into a search bar on Google and immediately got 7 metres = 22,9659 feet. ” 😉

    And on a serious note, I did try that for kilometres and got different answers, probably because the answer is location specific. Google offered me 7000 metres in return for7 kilometres. I had to ask it to give me feet. Regards Anne
    R is for Rosydyon Tower the seat of Sir W. de Crespigny Bt
    ———-
    Anne Young
    Anne’s family history

    • Oh my goodness! How funny. Thank you for spotting that huge typo! I put a commma instead of a period. I’ve just typed in 7 metres again and got the same figure, but with a different punctuation it is ever so slightly less! 22.9659 feet!!! That’s a lesson all on its own! The importance of correct punctuation. Thank you so much for pointing that out. I will correct it right now!

        • HAH! Actually, I forgot that. So it was an error which was actually correct. Oh international writing is such a challenge! Thank you for pointing it out. I have actually corrected it, but I’d better go back and clarify the correction!) Have a great day!

          • Google too clever for us, it is very location specific, hence I got metres instead of feet and you got a comma as a decimal mark.

            It is tricky writing for an international audience. We are probably these days quite used to translating for our American cousins though.

          • Yes, it’s funny, because I had subconsciously written it correctly (for S.Africa) but when you drew my attention to it I thought I had hit the wrong key! I have done a number of articles, both on my website and for publication, on international writing, but I’ve never included this trap for the unsuspecting. So thank you! 🙂

  2. The Internet has made so much information available to so many people, it’s truly amazing! There really isn’t an excuse anymore for not adequately researching a topic these days. And if you’re not sure how to research a thing, you can research how to research it, too! lol 🙂

  3. When I think of all the hours I spent at the New York Public Library when I was growing up, doing research-but it also made you consider your sources. It was good training. Research done correctly is such a good way to learn your subject, and going to the source (i.e. Your example of a survivor of a genocide) is the best.

    • Hi Alana,
      Thanks for the visit. Yes, research is an excellent way of learning a subject as long as you verify your sources. The topic of genocide is one that I stumbled upon, in that a young woman at our church was the sole family survivor of the Rwanda Genocide. Imagine that. Her entire family was wiped out. She had gone to a neighbouring village to get something and on her return heard the noise and the screams and hid in the bush to see her village being torched. There was nothing she could do but keep hidden.

    • Yes, it requires more research and that’s where you find the real nuggets of gold too. It’s not usually lying on the surface because those are the facts everyone knows. Thanks for the visit Marcia. Enjoy your weekend.

  4. Hi Shirley – you’ve given us lots of ideas here … as too your readers … I use the internet with care – as I’m not always sure things are correct – if pos I double check with books here – though my common sense mostly lets me know.

    I write so a variety of people can be interested – it’s serious, but not too much so – and I try and make it as full as possible – without being too lengthy (mostly I succeed at that … and have very tolerant commenters) …. as you know the blog is very eclectic … but really interesting information here … cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/r-is-for-rare-breeds-survival-trust.html

    • Thanks for your input Hilary. Yes, you have to be careful, but generally there’s good information available. If in doubt, don’t use it until you’ve checked~ Have a great weekend.

  5. Google has made blog research so much easier, but you are right that it is difficult to find reputable resources. You’ve got some great tips in today’s post perfect for any type of writing, not just blogging! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    With Love,
    Mandy

    • Loved your blog post of today although it required me to jump through quite a few hoops to post a comment! Hopefully I won’t face that again next time. Have a great weekend!

    • Yes, thank you Barbara I am enjoying the A to Z. And you? I’ve just visited your blog for the first time and I have to say AMEN to your message. Have a great weekend.

    • Thanks for your comments Leanne. Google for research is also more current. The encyclopedias of old were already out of date when they reached the shelves! Have a great weekend.

  6. Another idea using Google is to do a search for blogs on the topic you are researching. I typed in “blog bee keeping” and then “blog stroke recovery” and each time got more leads than I could read.

  7. Yes, i agree, research is very important.

    Google Earth is a valuable research tool, especially for setting. Use the street view to get an idea of places that you cannot visit in person.

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