How To Do Your Own Research (Hint: It’s More Than Reading A Few Reviews)

The information space, however, is full of subjective opinions and misinformation – so, to get the full picture, we need to know how to do our own research. Is it as easy as reading a few opinions, though? Nope. The great news is, it’s still not rocket science.

6 Steps For Doing A Proper Research

Here are the guidelines I follow myself, but no two humans are alike – so there’s no generic, fit-all system. Feel free to modify it in any way that works for you!

Step 1: Define Your Topic

Create a new note or take a piece of paper, and write it down. I also like to make mindmaps, where I can add related topics and explore connections. It will help you word your search string, ask better questions, expand or narrow down your search when needed, weed out distractions – and, of course, battle The Wikipedia Effect. After all, it’s a real thing)

Step 2: Do The Research

This one is pretty straightforward: open your favorite search engine, and search on! If you are a Google disciple like me, check out Google search tips and tricks: they might come in handy when you carve your path through all that data.

Step 3: Evaluate Your Sources

A reputable source will have a reputation, a name, a face, a history, and expertise. For example, Business Insider, one of the leading news portals founded in 2009, which is visited by over 110 million U.S. readers per month, is a trusted, reputable source. Their website features all the names of the editorial staff, with photos and bios.

Wikipedia isn’t, as anyone can edit the articles – but the articles, in their turn, have links to sources, so the website is perfect for looking for information and exploring connections. Because Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, you are less likely to find the editorial bias that you will find on Business Insider.

With that in mind, it is good to use both sources (and more).

Step 4: Assess The Information

Here’s my short list of questions to help you out:

  • Is the information supported by facts and figures?
  • Where do those come from and do they add up?
  • Does the author provide links to sources?
  • If it’s a study or research, is the selection of data it’s based on large enough?

Step 5: Go for Diverse Opinions

We’re all humans. Even if we do our best to stay objective, there are still such things as unconscious cognitive bias, cultural distortions, and so on. When you do your research, you might want to look out for different opinions – as diverse as possible. In the end, it will let you see the whole picture, not just a little part of it.

Tip: Don’t shun opinions different from yours; keep an open mind. Should something trigger you, try to look deeper into it: after all, it might be your own bias acting out. It is important to not get yourself into an echo chamber where the information you’re seeking out confirms your existing view.

Step 6: Check if You Have Everything You Need

Do you need any additional information? If the answer is yes – go at it again starting with tip two.

Bottom line: Ask more questions about the nature of your source and the information itself. Doubt everything (just in case), stay open-minded, make notes so you don’t stroll off your path – and happy researching!

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