When it comes time to doing research on a project or assignment, most people instinctively turn to Google. Yes, Google is one of the most excellent ways to obtain knowledge and information. No, it is not the only way. Nowadays, many of us rely too heavily on technology and the Internet to come up with our ideas for us. But by limiting our research strategy to the Internet, we are ultimately limiting ourselves.
The use of Google and other search engines is perfect for basic or brief research, but if you really want to conduct an intelligent research, consider these alternative methods for bigger projects:
Whatever your subject matter, there are sure to be countless books written about it by passionate professionals. While you certainly don’t have to read every relevant book you can get your hands on, it’s usually a good idea to pick out a select few that intrigue you the most. Reading books is one of the best ways to obtain information, so hit the library or your favourite bookstore and take a look around.
If you want to know more about a subject, why not interview someone who knows all about it? If you’re writing an in-depth paper about a certain disease, have a chat with a medical professional who specialises in treating the disease or someone who actually lives with the disease. If you’re portraying a lawyer in a movie or a skit, interview or shadow a real-life lawyer. If you’re presenting a power-point about organic farms, visit an organic farm and speak with the owner of it. Regardless of what you already know, somebody somewhere knows even more. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them!
Become your subject matter
Immerse yourself in your subject matter. Get some real life experience and take some risks that will better enable you to tell your story. Gaby Rodriguez, author of The Pregnancy Project, faked a pregnancy while still in high school to shed light on stereotypes surrounding teen pregnancy. One of the best ways to write about, portray, speak out against, or demonstrate a subject is to place yourself in the crossfire of that subject.
Enlist a fresh pair of eyes
Consider getting a second opinion on the angle of your project from someone you love and trust. Don’t ask too many people what they think, as too many conflicting opinions will blur your own unique vision. But sometimes a fresh perspective or simply an encouraging nudge to keep doing what you’re doing can help bring your project to life.
Draw inspiration from your own knowledge and experiences
Lastly, research your own thoughts, feelings, and life experiences. What drew you to this project in the first place? What resonates with you about it? Why is the subject something that matters to you? You have your own unique visions and experiences to call forth, so don’t forget to actually bring yourself into the project. The best way to make something stand out is to make it authentic. Nobody can say anything quite like you can because you’re a unique individual with your own visions and ideas to bring to the table.
Think bigger than Google!