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    Home Articles

    Researching Topics for Writing

    When researching or investigating a topic for your writing, you have the greatest research source readily available: The Internet.

    However, like all sources, you must be aware that not everything on the Internet is fact. It's important to verify all your facts, no matter what the resource.

    So, you have an unlimited resource tool at your fingertips, where do you start?


    Internet Resources

    Research-It!

    One of the most comprehensive research sites on the Internet today is Research-It! at http://www.itools.com/research-it

    Their Language tools alone encompass English, Computing, Rhyming, Pronouncing, and Law dictionaries, an English thesaurus, and Universal and specific translators.

    The Library tools let you search biographies and quotations, While the Geographical tools gives you access to all kinds of maps of the United States and World, telephone numbers, and the CIA Factbook.

    Other tools that may not help you with Technical Writing research, but are awesome, nonetheless, are the Financial tools for converting currency and finding stock quotes, and the Shipping & Mailing tools for package tracking and locating areas by zip codes.

    There is also an Internet search to locate e-mail discussion groups.

    All in all, this site, while very comprehensive, limits your searches because you have to use their search tools.

    What if you want to find information that doesn't fall into these categories? Then you go to a basic search tool on the Internet like a search engine.


    Search Engines

    Search engines can be found within every Internet Service Provider and Browser. Their names and locations change every day while more are added.

    I've located two excellent sites that can help you learn where to find search engines and how to use them to your advantage.

    How to Search the World Wide Web : A Tutorial for Beginners and Non-Experts

    Sink or Swim: Internet Search Tools & Techniques


    Libraries

    Practically every college and university library in the world is on the Internet now and you can use their tools to research any topic. You can also visit your local city library for a more "hands on" approach to research.


    Software Product Research

    If you're researching a product, go to the company website and see if you can download a trial version or other kind of temporary version. Or, if the product isn't available yet, contact the company and see if you can get an alpha or beta version that you can use. Some companies may not be as open about sharing their product information as others. Don't feel slighted if they refuse your request. Companies must protect their interests first.

    If you are writing an article that may put a positive spin on the company's product, they may offer a trial, discounted, or even free version of the software in exchange for reviewing the article before it goes to print.

    And, if all else fails, don't forget to fall back on your interviewing techniques and just go to the source and ask questions!

    Copyright © 2001 Vicki M. Taylor

    Vicki M. Taylor writes thrilling fiction with strong women characters. You can find out more about her at http://get-me.to/VickiMTaylor. Coming Soon - Forever Until We Meet at Crossroads Publishing.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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