By definition, research is a series of systematic investigations into a particular subject. Systematic things take time….LOTS of time! More than taking up lots of time, conducting research takes patience, and some skill. And, the reality is, let’s face it, people don’t have the time that is needed to conduct successful research. And this is why we often get asked to perform research tasks: both for personal reasons and business reasons.
Here are 5 tips from TED Prize researcher, Danielle Thomson, that we employ…and it works!
1. There are no new questions.
Have a research question? Trust me, it’s been asked before. Put your exact question into quotations as a search term, and you will find, at the very least, a lead to your answer. Want to find out how much of the ocean has been explored? Type “How much of the ocean has been explored” into your search engine, and you will likely get your answer.
2. Work backwards.
If the answer you are looking for doesn’t pop up, then work backwards from how you think the answer would be phrased. Try out different chunks of the question to get you going in the right direction. With that ocean example, you are likely looking for a percentage — so instead, search the phrase “percent of the ocean” and see if that gets you any closer.
3. If searching for something less specific, channel your inner writer.
If you are trying to research something that has the potential for multiple answers, then think about common phrasings that a writer would use to describe the subject. For example — if you were searching for stories about people who collaborated after meeting at TED, search for phrases like “first met at TED,” “were introduced at TED,” or “while attending TED,” as those terms would likely be used by a writer to explain the concept.
4. Google is great!
Yes, there are pricy database research tools that are wonderful to have access to. But Google is my search engine of choice — with the advent of blogs and online archives, it is often actually better and more complete. While it depends on the scope and timeframe of your research project, if you are searching for breaking or current news issues, start with Google.
5. Follow your leads — even if they don’t feel like leads!
When you are searching for things on Google, never stop searching at page one. Not even page two. Follow the results to at least page six or seven as smaller, less popular articles that seemingly have less relevance might hold the key to what you are looking for. Never give up. The Internet, as we know it, holds all the answers!
Do you need any research done? Contact us on www.skivvy.co.za!