Saturday, April 7, 2012

Where to Find Research Material for Your Manuscript

Your article or book should contain information that a child or adult cannot find for himself by casually consulting an encyclopedia or surfing the net or going to the library.

1)      Encyclopedia, almanac, or dictionary – Use as a starting point in your research of a topic.

2)      Internet – Be careful of your sources here.  Incorrect information is often repeated word-for-word on many websites.  Generally speaking, the information found on a college/university website (.edu) or those sponsored by a museum or historical/professional society (.org) or the government (.gov) are usually reliable.

3)      Children’s books – Use these first to better understand your subject; however, don’t use these exclusively.  Children’s books give clear, concise information about a subject, but you will need to know more detailed, complex information before you can write your article or book.

4)      Newspapers and magazines – These may give you more up-to-date information on your subject that hasn’t been published in books yet.  They will also show you different slants and approaches to your subject that you might not have thought of before.

5)      Government documents, public records, reports from organizations or companies – These may have statistics you can use.  They may also help you spot trends or attitudes of the public and private sectors.

6)      Classical books – These are books that have been used as references because of their accuracy and/or subject matter.

7)      Current books on the topic – Use the most up-to-date adult books you can find on your subject.

8)      Your local librarian – He or she can be a wealth of information.

9)      Interviews – Talk to people who work in the field of your topic.  Be sure to use interesting quotes and anecdotes from them.  These people have an in-depth knowledge about your subject.

10)  Expert reviews – The expert may be one of the people you’ve already interviewed, or else it’s someone from a college or university, from a museum, or perhaps from a professional or historical organization.  Ask this person to read your article for accuracy.  You can also ask this person for quotes and/or anecdotes to include in your article.  (Try for experts who don’t charge.)