It’s been said that anything that ever has or will be written already exists, so as research writers, our obligation is to gather all these facts floating around out there and assemble them into a cohesive article that educates and enlightens our readers. With the billions of web sites and blogs on the internet, it’s seldom difficult to find information on any subject.
The problem is knowing which sources are reputable, and which web sites may be merely twisting facts to sell a product or promote their own agenda. Information, and misinformation, can be passed around the world so quickly that we may not sure who or what to believe. Wikipedia and other user-edited web sites are fine for beginning your research, but aren’t considered (by most editors) to be legitimate resources.
These questionable sites aren’t necessarily giving wrong information, perhaps just skewing it in their favor. Retail websites that post informational articles that pertain to their products may be excellent starting points for unique article ideas. When I run across this type of commercial marketing ploy, I have to ask myself what this site’s agenda is, and how I can capitalize on it. What fascinating piece of information from this article can I draw out and expand on? What legitimate resources can I use to refute or support these claims?
For example, my interest in alternative medicines and herbal therapies has led me to many web sites with scary information. I’m warned that deadly toxins are building up inside my body and my internal organs are going to revolt, and at the end of the article I’m greeted by an advertisement for a product which the site sells. This miraculous product promises to wash me clean and restore my good health. Halleluiah! Sign me up!
I look at such sites with a suspicious eye. Does legitimate medical research support the use of these alternative therapies, and what potential adverse effects might the consumer expect? Is there anecdotal evidence that these products work for some people, or are consumers throwing their money down the drain? I answer these questions by researching these topics on the web sites of well-respected medical web sites and listing them as my resources.
Whatever subject you are researching, choose your resources carefully. Your reputation as a professional writer is on the line, and once damaged is not easily repaired. As a professional research writer, I want to be considered as legitimate as my resources.