Research is a diligent inquiry or examination to seek or revise facts, principles, theories, applications, and so on. It is can also be termed the laborious or continued search after truth. This clearly shows that research is often inevitable in most endeavours e.g. business and entrepreneurship. You usually hear us emphasising the importance of market research, for example. The idea is to condition you to appreciate the importance of making empirical decisions. Terms like investigate, explore, examine, study, inquire, or scrutinize all point to researching. This article is all about some tips to bear in mind for effective researching.
Wikipedia Helps You Have An Overview
Most of you know that academically, Wikipedia is discouraged as a source or citation. I recall during my varsity days that most lecturers did not want to see Wikipedia being cited. It is understandable because Wikipedia is an open source platform where anyone can add or edit information. However, it is still a great place to start you research journey. Often time you will get a good hang of the overview of the subject you want to research. You can even find links to good sources of information via Wikipedia. Especially if you take time to go through the bibliographies provided below stuff posted on Wikipedia, you will find useful sources. You will then follow up on those and expand your search far and broader. Always know that Wikipedia can be a good starting point but not an end in itself.
Always Ensure You Use High Quality Sources
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to use poor sources. Especially when using online sources, you must be careful. Remember, anyone can write and upload anything online. Just because something is available online does not automatically make it credible. You must be diligent and inquisitive enough to weigh the authenticity of a source. For a source to be credible or high quality it must be coherent with other sources. This means you have to check out several sources and do a comparison. It also helps to use sources from thought leaders in a particular field. For example, successful entrepreneurs are credible sources of information. It can also be platforms e.g. Forbes or Bloomberg, just to mention a few. Sources must also carry information that is current (or recent) and verifiable.
Your Mental Disposition Must Be To Seek Out The Truth
This is yet another area where extreme caution is needed. It is a common temptation for one to seek to validate what they already think or believe to be true. If you operate that way you will most likely be biased. You will be blinkered and will not notice or recognize certain insights that matter. For example, you think or believe that rabbit farming is not profitable. If your quest is to validate that assertion it means you will ignore even if your findings suggest otherwise. Researching is a search for the truth not necessarily what you insist is the truth. Thus it is important to be open-minded and flexible in your thinking. Recently I saw an insightful tweet by Vala Afshar where he said, “Intelligence is the ability to change your mind when presented with accurate information that contradicts your beliefs”.
Physical Sources Still Do Matter
I have noticed that many people have literally abandoned physical sources of information. I do understand that you can now get a significant number of sources online. However, there are some credible and useful sources you will most likely find in physical form. This can be physical books, magazines, newspapers, journals, periodicals, and so on. You can find these in libraries or other relevant archives. My advice here is that you should not completely rule out physical sources of data or information. Physical sources here can also include talking to certain people in person. That can give you access to some useful information as well. Like British sci-fi and fantasy author, Terry Pratchett, once said, “The best research you can do is to talk to people”.
Check Out All The Google Tabs
Google is a great source of information, provided you use it well. There are countless things I can talk about regarding how to effectively use Google. However, here I will just mention one tip that most people are blinded to. When doing a Google search you will notice there are several tabs e.g. All, Images, Videos, News, Maps, and Books. People usually just work with the ‘All’ tab. This can lead to you missing out on certain sources due to ranking issues. For example, a source might not rank higher under ‘All’, but might rank higher under ‘News’. That is why it is wise to check out all the tabs when doing a Google search.
These are 5 of some of the useful tips that can help you research effectively. Things are more digitized nowadays so most research entails using online platforms. Never be in a hurry to consider any source without verifying its credibility. Premising something on false or inaccurate data or information can be costly in some cases. It is a capital offense to work with theories before you have the data for it.