After my previous post, Research Tips from a Researcher, I realised there was so much more advice to offer. And since research is such an essential part of crafting a novel, I thought I’d give you a few more tips to help you research more effectively.
In my last post, we discussed how Wikipedia is a great place to start your hunt for information, but it isn’t appropriate for reliable information. That begs the question: Where do I find reliable information?
Given I am an academic by trade, my very first response is peer-reviewed journal articles. I know, I know, it sounds boring, but you can find a wealth of information in these articles. And, pro-tip; the introduction usually has all the information you need.
Start by using a search engine like Google Scholar, where you’ll be able to find plenty of articles, many of which are open access these days. Other free databases for searching for journal articles include CORE and ScienceOpen. Make sure you use basic keywords when searching for journal articles. Entire sentences or phrases are less likely to bring up meaningful hits.
My second tip is to take notes—lots of them. Saving a webpage or article for future reference is well and good, but often the amount of information you find can quickly become overwhelming. And keeping a running log of what you have found can be incredibly useful. I like to keep a notebook open beside me to jot down keywords to search for next and important pieces of information I might need to access immediately.
My final tip for today is to use a reference manager. These days, I can’t live without one. And when I was writing my thesis, it was invaluable. And I will be invaluable for your novel as well. Reference managers are handy pieces of software that allow you to store your references (journal articles, e-books, webpages, etc.) in your own personal library. You can store notes on each reference and group them easily for individual projects. Even better, there are free versions of these too. My recommendation would be Mendeley, which also has a plugin for Word, where you can automatically reference in your Word document and create an auto-updating reference list.
I hope these tips can help you on your writing journey! They certainly work for me.
If you have any tips that might help other writers research better, drop them in the comments below!
P.S. Our new puppy Reilly is still cute and fluffy. He met some cows yesterday.
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