Research is an important part of the technical writing process. Knowing how to be an effective researcher will help the writer in his or her project. Once one understands the importance of research, said person can become an effective technical writer.
It is important to understand how to do research when in school or in academic fields. Technical writing research is a bit different then researching literature or non-technical subjects. It is important to look for reliable sources. To start, make sure that your sources are credible by looking them up. Websites, such as wikipedia, are not usually recommended to be used as sources as it is difficult to verify who is editing the site.
Primary data is what the writer observes or records from an experiment, for example. Secondary data is generally where one would start their research (Smith-Worthington & Jefferson, 2011). This type of data is information about the the subject that has already been obtained by your organization or school. It is generally found in libraries on campus or in the local community. Journals, magazines, and newspapers are often used for sources and can have valuable information. Of course there are also dictionaries, encyclopedias, and almanacs that can be useful, too. Once you have the sources you need, remember to cite them appropriately in your work and to add a reference page so that readers can find your sources.
Plagiarism is when a person uses information from a source without giving them credit. There are many examples of this. A novelist who writes a story that was taken from another person’s ideas without permission is plagiarism. Make sure to properly cite your sources by determining what system you are using. For example, does your project require MLA formatting or APA formatting?
You might wonder how to tell if a source is credible. There are some ways to find out. First, like mentioned before, sites that are open source or are editable by anyone are not good sources. A good source is written by someone who is easily identifiable and has a background in the subject or some kind of academic credentials. It’s also good to find sources from well known organizations, such as newspapers, government agencies, or scientific sites. You can also ask friends, students, and professors about certain sites if you are not sure if they are reliable.
Once a person understands the importance of research, he or she can become effective in technical writing. With such knowledge, one can write a technical document that is both professional and effective. He or she will also be able to build credibility with the reader.
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Jefferson, S, & Smith-Worthington, D. (2011). Technical Writing for Success. Cenagae Learning: OH.