5 Powerful Tips To Make Research Quicker and Easier

Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

Most writers, both fiction and non-fiction, need to do some form of research. Whether it’s statistics to support your point or information about a foreign climate to support your worldbuilding, research will improve your writing.

Have you ever opened Google to find a simple fact, only to come away an hour later with a bunch of irrelevant information? There’s so much to learn on the internet, and not all of it is well-presented. Research can end up being a sleep-inducing time sink when all you want is to write.

However, yo don’t need to spend all your time researching. You can use research to fuel your writing and still spend most of your time writing. These tips will help make research quicker and easier while still giving you the information you need.

1. Don’t research what you don’t need

When looking up information, it’s easy to get lost and wander. Each question you answer can give you five new questions, and you’ll find suggested articles or videos that look interesting. That’s why it’s essential to go into research with a goal in mind. Know what you’re looking for and why.

Of course, the answers won’t always be right in front of you, no matter how focused you are on the goal. You might have to sift through a lot of useless information to find the good stuff. Practice reading strategies such as skimming and scanning to find what you’re looking for quickly.

Once you find it, you can look closer at the context if that’s needed. While finding a sentence that perfectly supports your point is nice, it’s no good if the authors disprove it a paragraph later. Taking things out of context is sometimes necessary, but you should at least know the context.

To find exactly what you’re looking for, learn how to use search engines. For example, in Google, you can use quotes to search for an exact phrase and filter results by how recent they are. You can search within a particular site or for specific filetypes using “site:” and “filetype:” followed by the site or filetype. Learning to use search engines optimally is a small upfront time investment that will save you a lot of time in the long run.

2. Use research to get ideas

To counter the previous point, sometimes it’s good to let yourself get carried away in research. Go down the rabbit hole and follow your interests. You can find a lot of great ideas there.

Watch a documentary or vlog about someone completely different from you to gain a new perspective on life. Pick a topic at random and spend an hour learning as much as you can about it. You might not use the information right away, but your mind will store it away for later.

When you get an idea relating to those random things you’ve spent time learning about, you’ll already have done half of the research. Then, all you have to do is fill in the blanks rather than start from scratch.

3. Look for opposing viewpoints

When you’re researching, it’s because you want the truth, or as close as you can get to it. Otherwise, you’d just make something up and be done with it. Thus, it’s important to look at both sides of the argument. Unless you’re dealing with cold, hard, mathematical facts — and sometimes even then — there’ll be two sides to anything you learn.

By looking at the issue from several perspectives, you can avoid bias as much as possible. You should also be aware of your own biases to ensure they don’t influence you as much.

Looking for multiple sources will take more time than just accepting the first source you come across. However, it adds credibility, which can easily make up for the lost time.

How thorough you should be can depend on formality and how important facts are in the context of your text. Sometimes, you just need a quick fact or quote to show that your claims aren’t entirely unsupported. Other times, you want to be sure that your words hold up to scrutiny.

At the very least, you should make sure that your claim is supported by more than one source. A simple search to find out if multiple sources back up your facts can go a long way towards avoiding misinformation.

4. Find the media that work for you

What if reading walls of text is less exciting to you than watching paint dry? Luckily, we live in the digital age, and you can find most information through several different media. Don’t enjoy reading? Listen to an audiobook or a podcast.

I prefer to do general research and learning through videos and podcasts. If I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, that’s where I go. To me, having audio and video makes it easier to concentrate and process information.

That said, if I know what I’m looking for, I prefer text form, as that is much easier to scan through and search. With text, I can scan through thousands of words a minute until I find what I want. That’s much harder to do with audio or video.

You need to find the medium that suits your purpose. When you know what you want to research, you can best determine how to research it. You should also take into account what works best for you. How can you best concentrate and learn?

5. Know when to stop researching

If you want to be efficient with research, you must know when to stop. As mentioned earlier, it can be easy to get lost in countless tangents and digressions. Sooner or later, you need to call it quits and start writing.

When to stop researching depends on what kind of text you’re writing and what it demands. If you’re writing a dissertation, your process will be very research-heavy. If you’re writing a romantic short story, you might not need that much research.

It’s a good idea to identify your text’s needs before you start researching. If you write most of the text first and know what facts and quotes you need, the research won’t take as long. Plus, you can always rewrite parts that don’t work with the facts you find.

On the other hand, some texts require extensive research before you even start writing. In that case, you can research until you feel you’re able to write the text. Then, when you’ve written it, you’ll have a better idea of any additional research it needs.

With exploratory and idea-generating research, you’re never really done. You should keep learning about everything that interests you throughout your writer-life. Just make sure you spend a good deal of it writing as well.

Research is a vital part of the writing process. You shouldn’t ignore it, but you also shouldn’t spend all your time on it. By following these tips, it should be easier to find the balance between research and writing and make research an enjoyable part of your process.


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Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

Most writers, both fiction and non-fiction, need to do some form of research. Whether it’s statistics to support your point or information about a foreign climate to support your worldbuilding, research will improve your writing.

Have you ever opened Google to find a simple fact, only to come away an hour later with a bunch of irrelevant information? There’s so much to learn on the internet, and not all of it is well-presented. Research can end up being a sleep-inducing time sink when all you want is to write.

However, yo don’t need to spend all your time researching. You can use research to fuel your writing and still spend most of your time writing. These tips will help make research quicker and easier while still giving you the information you need.

1. Don’t research what you don’t need

When looking up information, it’s easy to get lost and wander. Each question you answer can give you five new questions, and you’ll find suggested articles or videos that look interesting. That’s why it’s essential to go into research with a goal in mind. Know what you’re looking for and why.

Of course, the answers won’t always be right in front of you, no matter how focused you are on the goal. You might have to sift through a lot of useless information to find the good stuff. Practice reading strategies such as skimming and scanning to find what you’re looking for quickly.

Once you find it, you can look closer at the context if that’s needed. While finding a sentence that perfectly supports your point is nice, it’s no good if the authors disprove it a paragraph later. Taking things out of context is sometimes necessary, but you should at least know the context.

To find exactly what you’re looking for, learn how to use search engines. For example, in Google, you can use quotes to search for an exact phrase and filter results by how recent they are. You can search within a particular site or for specific filetypes using “site:” and “filetype:” followed by the site or filetype. Learning to use search engines optimally is a small upfront time investment that will save you a lot of time in the long run.

2. Use research to get ideas

To counter the previous point, sometimes it’s good to let yourself get carried away in research. Go down the rabbit hole and follow

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