We have all been in the situation where we have to write about a subject that we know very little about. Unless you have well developed research skills, this can be a daunting hurdle to jump before you even start writing.
Well, I have some good news for you, I am going to share one of my secrets to quick, efficient research. The basis of this concept is that everyone knows a little bit about everything. OK, a practical example is probably better.
Let’s say you have been asked to write a series of short web articles about silver working. Now, most people would start their research by firing up their web browser and typing “silver working” in to the Google search box. They are then presented with thousands of search results, and they are forced to drill down, trying to find those elusive nuggets that could be concepts for their articles. This is not how I would research silver working however. This is what I would do.
I would think to myself, hmm, what do I know about silver working? Or what do I want to know about silver working? I would then list the things I could come up with, something like this:
- I know that silver workers need to weld silver in some way, how do they do that? What tools do they use?
- A lot of silver jewelry has precious gemstones set in it, so gem setting must be a tertiary skill of silver workers, are there other tertiary skills?
- I would not know where to start if I had to purchase the raw materials for silver working, so where do silver workers buy them?
- Where do people learn the craft of silver working? Is it in an apprenticeship kind of arrangement? Or can you learn silver working in a class somewhere?
So, you can see, I already have some pretty solid questions I want to answer, and these are a lot easier to research than simply typing “silver working” in to a Google search box, and being hit with a few hundred thousand possible web pages to read. In fact, I can already take my list above, and turn it in to a set of article titles thus:
- Tools and Techniques used by Silver Workers
- Skills Silver Workers need to Master
- Procuring Silver Working Supplies
- Learning Silver Working
So you can now see that I am already half done with research by this stage, I know the questions I want to ask and answer, and I also have a basic set of titles for the articles. It’s all downhill from this point onwards.
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