Curiosity has always been one of humankind’s most defining characteristics. We strive to know the unknown, and will often go to great lengths to satisfy our most burning questions. While great thinkers of the past spent countless hours searching for answers, modern times have made it easier. Thanks to the internet, research is now a daily part of life, whether it’s to answer a medical question, get directions, locate resources for work, or read reviews of local businesses. With so much information out there, it’s also become difficult to know what good research looks like. What qualities and features should you exemplify when you’re fact-finding? Let’s dive into what turns general queries into good research.
Good Research at Work
Research is a part of the scientific method. Established in the 17th century, the process is described by the Khan Academy as not only asking a question, but then establishing a hypothesis or stating the expected results, performing calculated tests, and then reflecting on the findings. However, if you’re tasked with researching a topic or subject at your job, it may not be as formal or involved. That said, there is still a great deal we can learn about research practices from the scientific method.
Much as you would with a hypothesis, you need to be sure you know exactly what question you’re trying to answer. When it comes to work, one of the best research opportunities appears when job searching. Unless you have a specific trade, chances are you have a combination of skills. Even if you studied marketing in school, there are all kinds of professions that fall under the umbrella of “marketing.” Before you start scrolling through job postings, it’s a good idea to establish what you want. What interests you in the world of business as it pertains to marketing? What abilities do you feel are your strongest? What kind of work-life balance seems best to you? Establishing criteria like this can help you pinpoint specific career paths within a large field.
Good Research with Friends
While we engage with our pals in real life, social media helps us stay in contact when in-person hangouts are not possible. Research published on Statista found that nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population has a social media account, with that number expanding to 2.34 billion people globally. While this is great for keeping up with friends, the overpopulation of social media has created problems. Unfortunately, with so many voices and shares, the prevalence of “fake news” has become a real problem. In fact, a study performed by MIT found that fake stories not only go viral more quickly, but reach people six times faster than legitimate news sources.
Thankfully, there are some telltale signs of inaccurate or downright untrue news stories. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions created a handy guide to consult before posting a news story. You can see the infographic here, but some common characteristics are:
- A heavily biased source, or one paid for by an affiliated political party
- Misspellings or grammatical errors
- A lack of supporting sources
- Misleading headlines
- Published on a satirical site
Good Research with Families
Spending time with family often means getting out into the world. Whether we’re hitting local hotspots and restaurants in hometowns, or travelling into the great unknown on a vacation, it’s always better with someone you know by your side. Sometimes, though, building the trip itinerary can be complicated with various opinions and reviews online. With so many sources available, how can you be sure that these reviews are true?
Most folks search for restaurants and nightlife by either heading to an app like Yelp, or by simply Googling their query. Though we may want to trust in these reviews, it’s possible the comments are fake. Investigate any app or service you use to find out how they handle fraudulent reports. Not only can these pull you in to a less-than-enjoyable establishment, they may even drive you away from perfectly good options. In regard to travelling, turning to the web is also a good idea. According to ReviewTrackers, 89 percent of travelers say that online reviews are influential when deciding on their destination. The same research also revealed that the average jetsetter will check up to four different sites before booking. There are far more than four sites, though. For that reason, it’s best to consider a site that aggregates search results from many sources. That way, you can sort and compare reviews in one convenient location.
Research is rooted in science. It should be a methodical and thoughtful process, in which the overall goal is to find the truth. Though we might think of such ambitious practices as being reserved for scholars and scientists, research is everywhere. Whether you’re preparing a report for work, seeking fun activities for friends, or vetting social media posts, you can help promote great research. By doing so, the world can become a more well-informed place.