The 12 Most Useful Ways of Obtaining, Analyzing, and Presenting Data in Wri
Researching for data (simply the information we gather when we are writing on a specific subject) is part of a writer’s job. Data comes in two main types: Qualitative (words) and Quantitative (numbers).
Research data is a lot like a scavenger hunt. You know what it is you would like to write about; the topic you have been given or are interested in. But finding the information you need is a matter of searching in places you only hope will have what you need. Things get even trickier if this gathering data process is new to you as a writer. Where do you start? What information will answer the questions you have about the topic? How do you know if the information is authentic and will enhance the quality of the article, review, or blog post you are writing? Here are a few tips that might help you get started: 1.
Obtaining Data Data can be obtained in many ways. First, assess your parameters. Between what years will you be interested in finding facts? Are you looking for an in-depth amount of information, or for just a few ideas on the chosen topic? Does the search need to include academic and educational sources, or will you need to look at surveys, newspapers, internet sites, or census information? 2. Use the Library Often forgotten in the computer age is the local library. Most libraries have librarians whose specific job description is to help you find the information that you need. They will even suggest websites that have what you are looking for, as well as city, county and state records that are kept on library shelves.
3. Help from Established Organizations There are many organizations online which have information that writers can use when researching a topic. For demographics there is the United States Census Bureau. For business facts try the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
For health related projects there is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These types of sites are especially good for checking the validity of information you have gathered 4. Soak up Everything you Can Don’t forget that you can obtain information not only from the site you are using to gather data, but also from sources they suggest or include in a footnote, bibliography, or an appendix. For beginner writers, this warning: Not everything you find on the internet is absolutely accurate. So, use your common sense.
Use your ingenuity. Look for reputable sources. Don’t fall for everything you read. 5. Study your Topic How do you take the information you have and analyze whether it furthers your hypothesis? In academic, scientific and business research, the data that is gathered should be demonstrable. Analyzing research done for non-fictional writing, in most cases does not have to pass such stringent testing.
Since our sources cannot always be absolutely authenticated, writers will need to know as much factual information about their topic as they can. The more you know, the more you can judge the quality of the content. Study your topic. 6. No Overgeneralizing Be very careful, as you analyze your research data, not to overgeneralize. This is a mistake that beginning writers often make.
What you have gathered, at its very best, is just a small portion of what there is to know about your target topic. In order to make assumptions of any kind, you would need to be involved in some serious and very difficult research. When article writing or blogging, you can draw conclusions, but be sure that you stick to the actual facts you have studied. 7. Write! If you are stuck, and feel overwhelmed with the topic, a trick for new writers is to write your article, based on the information you have gathered and what you have studied about the topic.
Then, begin writing. Don’t wait for your muse. When you have written all you have learned on the topic, no matter how your page has been pieced together, you probably have the outline for your topic in front of you. Now you can go back to your notes; fill in where necessary; flesh out your data; and edit. 8. Just the Facts As you have probably already noticed, the three keys to data collecting (obtaining, analyzing, and presenting) are in no way procedures that take place in a vacuum.
The three parts of data collecting are overlapped in many ways. One of the things that will happen as you look at your stream of consciousness writing is that it will beg for more facts, more anchors, more detail. 9. Use your Writing Skills Basically, presentation of data for a non-fiction writer is his article or blog. You are writing a story; a story based on your research. You are not necessarily using graphs or tables; you are using your well-written words to share what you have learned.
You are providing a way to make understandable the information you have gathered. 10. Give it a Persuasive Title Begin with your title. As always it must be descriptive and compelling. There is an extreme amount of writing going on in the world today. You have to make yours stand-out.
The research you have put into your narrative may go unnoticed, if you do not have a persuasive title. 11. Using Graphs There will be times when it will be an absolute necessity to present numerical data in table or graph form. Numbers, by nature, need to be viewed in a clear and precise manner. Be careful to display your numbers in a way that can be interpreted by the reader. Put the graph or table in your article where it can stand on its own and not need further explanation by the writer.
Let the numbers speak for themselves. If you do use a graph or table, be very sure it is a good, easily-read, well-designed graphic. 12. Make your Numerical info Clear If the numbers you are incorporating in your writing piece are limited (i.e.
, a percentage, or one reference number referring to a population, or a sales figure), you do not need to use a table or graph at all. Tell these figures in your writing. Writing is such an adventure. The amount of knowledge a professional writer absorbs in one day’s time is enormous. Use your knowledge and research wisely.
Your readers are depending on you. Are you a good caretaker of your “data”?