So, you've enrolled onto one of our courses, you're working your way through and you realise you need to carry out some research. Maybe you're writing a medical drama or a crime thriller and you want it to be as authentic as possible, which means getting the little details right. Why is this important? Well, if you want to convince someone that your main character is a crime scene investigation officer, you'll have to make sure that they wear the right clothes, say the right things and carry out the correct procedures. And, please don't think that you can get away with fudging it or making up what they do - there will be eagle-eyed readers who point out your errors and they'll likely say that it spoilt their reading pleasure.
But, it's not only important to get the details right for fiction work. It's also important for you to get the facts right when you are producing articles for publication. An editor will not be happy if you provide an article with incorrect figures or statistics - they'll most likely get readers contacting them to complain. And, honestly, poor checking of facts can lead to misinformation being disseminated, and repeated, all over the place!
So, where do you get your information from and how can you tell if it's reliable or not?
I'm fairly sure that you'll get most of your information from the internet and I bet most of you trust what you're reading. But, the internet is the worst and the best place for information - it's full of accurate, detailed, well-researched stuff and it's also full of a load of rubbish too!
So, here are a couple of guides that will help you sort the wheat from the chaff. Evaluating Web Pages:Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask details how to evaluate the quality of the information you find, including how to find out if the author is reliable. And Evaluating Information Found on the Internet has sections on Distinguishing Propaganda and Misinformation and a great little guide on Evaluating Social Media.
Use these guides and you will soon be able to tell the difference between good and bad resources and your writing will be so much better. And, if you have any hints and tips for researching do let us know.