These days, I’ve been writing a lot of articles. Educational and knowledge articles for the most part. My main client lately has been OLG, and so the entertainment subject matter has been a lot of fun. But it got me thinking about writer best practices for online research.
After all, it’s a jungle of information out there! Whereas in the past, the art of research was a complex, time-consuming one, that involved libraries and the tracking down elusive and busy experts, these days a few deft Google searches and quick clicks can link you into a tropical plethora of information, statistics, opinions and fascinating facts to potentially flesh out most whitepapers, articles and reports. Not that any old joe can just click, copy and paste together a great informative piece. It takes perspective, discretion, good copywriting and editing skills, and above all else, exceptional assimilation ability to bring diverse sources and perspectives together into something that is entirely original, accurate and intriguing for any given project.
As a senior copywriter, here are some quick guidelines that I like to bear in mind when it comes to tackling research on the World “Wild” Web for articles, whitepapers and other pieces of interest:
- Record your references. It’s too easy to just click, copy and move on. Always have a complete notes file where you document all the sources and URLS for your online research. In some cases, you may need to credit them, and you never know when you may have to refer back to these pages to check a fact or elaborate. Don’t expect you’ll be able to just find them again (I’ve made that mistake!)
- Choose credible sites. As I’ve said, there is loads of information, some good, some bad and some plain ugly. Be wise in selecting where you click to obtain facts, stats and background information. Be sure to steer, clear of gossipy, sloppy, weird and colloquial sources or very informal, personal blogs that express simply the subjective opinions of the blogger. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
- Don’t plagiarize. It is only a lazy and low-integrity writer who just cuts and pastes information of others into their own creation. Use better judgment and gather a variety of research (at least 5 sites if possible in addition to real-life experts), absorb all the information, and then use your skills to write the key findings that support your goals into your own language. And if you are working for a company, that language should comply with your brand voice!
Sounds too time-consuming? Then why not turn to a fast and fabulous writer/researcher like me to do the surfing and wordsmithing for you? I’m standing by to make your next informative piece sizzle. firstname.lastname@example.org