Pick a subject – any subject, and almost everyone will have thoughts that may be accurate or not. If you want to gain credibility as a writer though, you need more than assumptions or the viewpoint of one person. You need research to separate opinions from fact.
Besides the high prize of accuracy, research brings interesting information that can make your work pop with detail and reader appeal. For example, research makes the setting for a novel seem “real” and adds interest to a poem as you accurately describe the sights, sounds, smell, or feel of a place.
As you have probably discovered, however, all information on the Internet is not created equally — in accuracy or in value. Some people blow off on blogs or show severe signs of bigotry. So, how do you avoid the debris? How do you keep from contaminating your writing with junk thrown out by others?
We’ve talked about writing resources that get you off to a good start, so you might begin by studying those sources of information that relate to your topic, genre, or interest. Also, look for websites of credentialed individuals, libraries, research centers, and institutions who specialize in your subject. For general research, for example, you will find reliable information on websites sponsored by:
Well-established (often nonprofit) Foundations, Associations, and Organizations
National Institutes, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology or the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Local, State, and National Government Offices, such as the U. S. Chamber of Commerce or departments devoted to education, health, welfare, and wildlife
Also, your State Library will likely offer online journal articles and other resources that you can access simply by signing in with the numbers on your local public library card. In Florida, for example, check out the FL Electronic Library.
In addition to those sites, look for resources related to your specific area of interest. For example, your fantasy novel, sci-fi adventure, poem on the stars, article on space travel, or children’s nonfiction book about the planets might all begin with research from NASA. Or, if you write about a medical condition or set a novel on hospital grounds, visit the websites for NIH and other health-related groups but also online medical dictionaries or encyclopedias such as Merck Manual.
No matter what genre you write in, adequate research and accurate information will bring credibility to your work. Editors will be more interested, and readers will begin to trust you and maybe even recommend what you have to say.