We live in a world of over-educated people that do not know how to research or think for themselves. School does not equate an ability to research. I had good research strategy even before high school, thanks in part to some awesome English AND Science teachers. I will spare you the scientific method, but that IS a form of research.
First, develop an idea or question.
It could be:
- What is the meaning of life?
- Christianity was partially responsible for the collapse of the Roman Empire.
- How do I move a pet snake?
- The government is lying about cannabis.
- Could the Earth be flat if we missed something in quantum physics?
- The impending revolution will take many off-guard, despite all the warnings.
- Which routing protocol works better for X scenario?
You get the idea.
Then, it is important to find articles from as many different sources as possible. Depending on how deep I want to go, I will read anywhere from 5 – 500 sources. I usually aim for primary sources or someone with first-hand experience if I can.
Once you take in all this information, it’s time to discourse internally and externally. Frequently, I will call someone that works in the field or has the knowledge and/or expertise to answer my question or help me “unpack” a concept, especially if I get the sense that it is way outside my skill set.
Finally, I weigh out the probabilities of each scenario or perspective, and I tend to lean toward the one that is most logical to me, or, if it is outside my expertise, I will go with the strongest source, and/or go with the most popular opinions as the necessities, and with the peripheral stuff, I just experiment.
Of course, I keep an open mind. Even if I have my mind made up on a topic, I often keep in the back of my mind that there are others with way more knowledge than me. This gets me excited, because I love to learn. So, I take my new foundation of knowledge and use it to research other areas, grow in the subject, and spur others on as much as I can.
Either way, good research ethics are this: assume you know nothing until you have put in a significant amount of research. Even then, stay open. It’s important.
People’s lives are actually counting on it.
Wagen, over and out.