Writing Well: You're Not Done Yet
You're Not Done Yet
Include only respected people in the field. Don't waste your time with cranks and people with their own agendas to further.
Not so fast, partner! There are lots of other places to look. And here they are:
Consider audiovisual sources, too. These include records, audio-cassettes, videotapes, slides, and photographs. AV materials can often be borrowed from your library as you would books, magazines, and other print sources.
- Interviews. There's a lot to be said for first-hand information. Discussing your subject with an expert adds credibility and immediacy to your report. You can conduct interviews by telephone, by e-mail, or in person.
Call and confirm the interview, prepare a series of questions well in advance of the interview, and later write a note thanking the person for his or her time. Get the person's permission beforehand if you decide to tape-record the interview. Obtain a signed release for the right to use their remarks on the record.
- Surveys. Surveys can help you assess how a large group feels about your topic or a significant aspect of it. On the basis of the responses, you draw conclusions. Such generalizations are usually made in quantitative terms, as in “Fewer than one third of the respondents said that they favored charter schools.” To get fair and unbiased data …
- Survey a large number of people.
- Avoid loaded questions that lead people toward a specific response.
- Make the form simple and easy.
- Government documents. The government publishes tons of pamphlets, reports, catalogs, and newsletters on most issues of national concern. Government documents are often excellent research sources because they tend to be factual and unbiased. To find government documents, try these CD-ROM and online indexes:
- Monthly Catalogue of the United States Government Publications
- United States Government Publications Index
- Special collections. Many libraries also have restricted collections of rare books, manuscripts, newspapers, magazines, photographs, maps, and items of local interest. They're usually stored in a special room or section of the library and you'll probably need permission to access them.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.