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Quick step guide to effective research

Being tasked with a new marketing project can be daunting, even more so if the narrative or approach angle is open ended.  From blog posts or feature articles to official documents and white papers – there is often a considerable amount of research going into every piece of work. Knowing how to research effectively isn’t something which can be picked up in a few moments, but more a skill which requires hours of use and practice. With time being of the essence, outlined below is a brief check guide on how to conduct research quickly and effectively.

Don’t be too specific – start broad before narrowing down your search.

There is always a pressure of being able to answer the question as quickly as possible, however, this is an unrealistic expectation. Knowing where to begin or what search for can be tricky. The key advice here is to not be too specific. Starting with a quick internet search can help you find what is, and isn’t, useful; and keeping it brief can help formulate your narrative or overall structure. This will give you an indication of themes and ideas present within other research questions, their similarities and where there are any existing knowledge gaps which could help tailor your research – so you can add your own unique spin on the topic.

Stay organised.

While this may seem obvious, it really is a key component for ensuring your research goes smoothly. Keeping a list of relevant sources, links – both positive and negative sources can really help formulate your overall narrative. Not only will it help keep everything in one place, but it will also be much easier to understand for others in your team if you require further input. It is also more permanent than keeping all your tabs open in your browser.

Learn to identify quality sources.

Not all sources are equal, or reliable. Using your critical thinking and analysis skills will help you determine its overall quality. Has it been written by an expert in the field? This does not always have to be an individual, but it could be from a trade body, department or publication. Does it also agree with other sources I have read? Is there a conflict of interest? For example, if an article was written about saving electricity was written by a company which produces light bulbs, it could be argued that they have a conflict of interest as they could stand to benefit.

Verify your sources.

The internet can be a wild place, with everybody and anybody having the ability to say whatever they want.  While this is a positive as it has allowed for the creation of websites and forums, it also makes it an easy place to spread fake news and information which may not be correct. Finding a source which backs up your ideas you may have, needs to be confirmed multiple times and through multiple sources. Not only is your reputation on the line, but once you have made a claim, it can’t be undone. By verifying your sources, this not only ensures the content you are producing is factually correct, but you also are creating another reputable source of knowledge – factchecking is often overlooked by some websites. Don’t become one of them.

Be open minded.

When you are given your topic, you may already have some ideas or concepts in your head. At the beginning, this could be a good thing, as it gives you a starting point in which to begin your research. However, you must be open to having your mind changed. It may become apparent during the research process that the answer is totally different to what you have been expecting. This is a useful take away, as it can alter the project aims and objectives, while opening new avenues to explore.

Conducting effective research is a skill which takes time and practice. We have outlined the key points which will help bolster the overall credibility and accuracy of your current and future projects.

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