What makes good research?

Whether you’re producing content about fashion or life insurance, research is a crucial part of crafting a high-quality article that your audience will find genuinely useful, engaging – and worth reading to the end! Here’s our guide on what makes good research.

Why is research important?

As a professional writer you may often be required to write about a subject that’s unfamiliar to you. When writing about a topic of this nature, it’s absolutely essential that you do some preliminary research to ensure that you know what you’re talking about – and can therefore write convincingly, with authority, and avoid resorting to filler.

The difference between a well-researched article and an article with shoddy research is immediately clear. An article with little or no research will often:

  • Be vague
  • Contain misconceptions or factual errors
  • Contain generalisations
  • Lack concrete information that informs the reader
  • Lack conviction and structure

Examples of poor and good research

Here is an example statement from a poorly researched article:

“Environmental awareness is ever increasing, and people are always looking for new ways to reduce their carbon footprint.” – This statement demonstrates poor research because the facts are unsubstantiated. It’s also vague and contains generalisations.

Here is an example statement from a well-researched article:

“Environmental awareness in the UK is on the increase, according to a recent survey conducted by DEFRA, which indicates that over 50% of people have started to recycle more frequently in the home to reduce their carbon footprint.” – This statement demonstrates good research because the facts are substantiated, come from a reliable source and convey clear, concrete information.

What is good research?

There are several things that you can do to ensure that your research is as thorough as possible and that you write a high-quality article. Here are a few rules of thumb you should follow:

  • Seek information from respected sources – official websites and highly regarded news sources are much more trustworthy than blogs and forums. Independent expertise is much more valuable than subjective opinions from the general public
  • Avoid information that is out of date or irrelevant – will a statistic from 1993 have any bearing on today’s situation?
  • Don’t just click on the first link you find on Google and take it as gospel – having a number of sources will give you a greater breadth of knowledge
  • Don’t trust everything you read – try to cross-reference any facts that you find to establish whether they are true
  • Borrow, but don’t steal – although gleaning information from a reliable source is great, remember not to regurgitate or copy whole passages into your piece

And finally, the golden rule: Filler is to be avoided at all times – if you pad out your article with meaningless statements to compensate for a lack of research, you won’t be fooling anyone!

‘researching’ by ‘Jimmie’ is licensed under CC by 2.0

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