General Tips and Advice on Researching and Using Research in Written Works
There are two types of resources used in research, primary and secondary sources. Knowing and using both types of sources effectively will enhance the authority and authenticity of any written text dealing with specific time period, topic, etc…
Secondary sources are documents that are generally written after an event/time period has taken place. They are often academic papers, historical documents recorded after the time period, etc…
Primary sources are documents that are recorded by eye-witnesses, or within the historical time period. They often include newspapers, diaries, radio/television broadcasts, and paintings/photographs and other artistic expressions.
There are many resources available to writers of all genres, levels and types of writing. It is important to remember that when taking from other sources to use discretion in deciding whether a citation/accreditation will be required.
A writer may be inspired by their research; however, it is important to be aware that should there be any direct quotation or borrowing of ideas that those are considered intellectual property and are protected under copyright laws.
There are many resources available and with some creativity and thoughtful research generally writers will be able to find any information they require.
Most universities subscribe to a variety of online research tools and databases for their students to use. While many of them are accessible only with a student/professor ID, some of the sources are available for free. Search university websites (usually under the library page), and go through the databases they suggest for students, this will allow you to get to know which online databases are free and which may be of use to your research.
Online resources are extremely accessible; however, it is important to remember that each website and source should be taken and evaluated for credibility. Just because something is published online does not mean that it is a reliable source.
Go old school and explore the local libraries and print resources.
Online Resources, Tools, and Thought Provoking Websites The Internet can be an effective tool and resource for writers looking for more information on the craft of writing, professional development, and research.
Here is a brief list of the many resources available online to writers and artists:
Dictionaries, Thesauruses & Style Guides
Oxford Dictionaries: This website requires a subscription; however, it can be a valuable resource for writers as an online dictionary.
The Cambridge Dictionaries Online: One of many online dictionaries and thesaurus. Generally, these sources provide general definitions and antonym/synonym references. However, some writers will want to have a print copy of a good quality dictionary and thesaurus or a subscription to an online resource such as the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) online. Some print dictionaries include Webster’s and the OED (compact or full version).
JSTOR: An online database of articles. This website requires a membership to access all of the articles available. However, it is important to note that many Universities provide their students with access to such databases.
Library and Archives Canada: This site allows the users access to a variety of Canadian archives, from photographs to family histories.
Fordham University History Sourcebook Project: This website provides links and access to manuscripts and primary sources from Ancient times through to the modern era. This site would be of great use for any writer looking to write a historical work based outside of Canada. Please note: Fordham Internet History Sourcebooks Project has not been updated since 2011. As such some links within the project may not function.
Romance Divas: This website is dedicated to romance writing, providing information for writers of this genre.
Saskatchewan Romance Writers: This website is focused on romance writers; however the site also provides general information concerning writing, research, and blogs for writers.
The SWG is not in affiliation with any of these websites, they are only recommended resources for writers.
Writers’ Resources Whether you are looking for information on a historical event or looking for information about contracts and income tax there are many resources available to writers, artists, and the general public.
The Public Library: Although many written works can be found electronically, the local library is an excellent resource to all writers. Today in Saskatchewan, the public libraries are all interconnected allowing inter-library loans; this means that if your local library is has a small collection patrons now have access to library catalogues from across the province. As well, the most libraries offer free Internet access.
Local and Provincial Writing Organizations: The writing community in Saskatchewan is rich with talent, creativity, and innovation. Whether you are a beginning writer or a published author gaining access to your provincial and community based writing organization can be a beneficial resource, providing inspiration, support, and insight.
Local Universities: If you are a university student or alumni you ought to have access to the vast resources available through your local university. Both the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina offer students and alumnus career advice, academic and research support, as well as access to university groups such as an English Undergraduate Society and to the expertise of the faculty.
Workshops, Festivals, Conferences, and Other Arts and Community Events: Many cities, communities, and arts organizations run various programs including workshops, festivals, and conferences. Whether you are beginning writer or someone who is established in the literary community, these events and workshops are important resources in developing the craft of writing and often will be enlightening when it comes to professional development.
Books on the Craft of Writing and Professional Development: There are many how-to, advice books, and style manuals available to writers at every stage of development. Contact your local writers’ organization for suggestions on the best craft books, or visit the local office for use of their library (the SWG offers members access to an extensive library of Saskatchewan writers and of craft books).
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