"The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write: aDo you want to broaden your knowledge base and add fascinating tidbits to your writing?
man [or woman] will turn over half a library to write one book." — Samuel Johnson
I confess…I enjoy reading encyclopedias. My first foray onto the Internet was via free access provided by Juno. When I discovered the Library of Congress online (http://www.loc.gov/index.html), I did not come up for air for days.
Juno canceled my “free” account.
Top Ten Research Suggestions
1. Read. Read. Read. I always keep a book in my purse and in the car.
2. Be curious. Ask questions. Seek answers. Develop a nose for interesting, unique details.
3. Watch people. Observe, interview or listen to interesting people. Read or listen to opposing viewpoints, then chronicle your response to help you rethink or crystallize what you believe.
4. Start broad. Scour general reference books—atlas, dictionary, almanac, encyclopedia, historical time line—to narrow your topical search.
5. Use your local library resources. Check out pertinent books from the library. Get acquainted with the research section.
6. Always read bibliographies. Then request original source material by utilizing interlibrary loan.
7. Examine online sources. Read newspaper, magazine, professional journal, and scholarly sources.
8. Peruse online foreign sources. Read English edition newspapers on every continent. Check out their editorials and editorial cartoons.
9. Be aware of cultural trends. Review the bestseller lists for books, movies and music. Journal your responses to what you read, see and hear.
10. Contact experts. E-mail, call or visit museums, historical societies, universities, and experts to find little-known details.
Five Research Time Savers
1. Subscribe to free e-newsletters offered by professionals on topics of interest. I subscribe to e-newsletters from university presses announcing their new book releases.
2. Search google.com. Click on “advanced search.” Choose 100 results instead of 25. Type key words into google.com, and go for it! Scan the list, read short description and then click on best links.
3. Sign up for Google Alerts at http://www.google.com/alerts?hl=en Type in key words to receive emails with links to Google’s latest search results.
Don’t Have Time to Study Your Research?
4. Set up folders under “Favorites.” When I don’t have time to study a web site in detail, I save the link into the appropriate folder, then return, click and read when I have more time to mine the wealth.
5. Save web pages as a text file. On your menu, click on “File,” click on “save as,” choose “text file.” Saving a webpage as a “text file” eliminates all graphics. You also have the source and copyright information for your bibliography.