Shhhh! Research Secrets.

Shhhh! Research Secrets.

Turn to page 60 of the latest issue of Writers’ Forum magazine (Issue 215) and you’ll find my ugly mug staring back at you!

I’ve been interviewed by Anita Loughrey for her regular Research Secrets column, where she asks writers to share how they undertake research for their writing projects.

When it comes to writing articles, there are lots of projects, which means there’s lots of research material. And, as I mention in the article, I love the fact that research for one article often leads you to research for a completely different article (if not more!).

The trick to this is how you store your research. What you need a decent bucket to put it all in. But it needs to be a clever bucket. It’s all very well having a huge receptacle in which to store your information, but what’s vitally important is having system that enables you to get the information back out again.

In the column I mention Evernote, an online storage bucket that you can access from any of your devices (Windows, Android, Apple,etc). What I found useful with this is that you can add tags to your research. So, whenever I saved a useful PDF, or a photo, I tagged it with useful keywords. For example, if I saved a copy of a leaflet about walks in Shropshire, I would tag it with the words Shropshire and walks. (For advice about using tags in Evernote check out this and this.) 

Then, should I ever need to be inspired about walks in Shropshire, all I need to do is search Evernote for my tags Shropshire and walks

With over five years worth of research now sitting in that Evernote bucket, I soon forget what I’ve got in there. But tagging things helps get it back out again, and sometimes, based upon the different tags I search for, the results reveal connections that I would not normally have made. And that has often sparked new article ideas.

Evernote has a slimmed-down free version, which can be a good way to try it out to see if it works for you.

From a business perspective, it means that my research has a ‘re-use’ value. We spend a lot of time doing research, so it’s only right that it repays us more than just once.

When you start reviewing your research material, you may be surprised at what you find you have. Whatever you use for your research bucket, make sure you have a way of getting it out again.

Good luck!

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