Point # 3: How to Research your “How to” Topic

Include your own knowledge and experiences as part of your research, but also research your topic well.  Look at several articles and/or books to get a good amount of material on your subject.  Make sure to keep all your sources.  You may need this later if you are ever questioned for plagiarism, or if you want to do another article on a topic you have previously researched.  The source may be just what you are looking for.  Keeping your sources saves you time and frustration.  Remember it is better to have too much information than too little.  With plenty of information, you have an extensive base to fall on to write your article.  To retain your reader’s interest in your article you need to know your ‘stuff’. http://blog.busisenseenglish.com/category/writers-corner/.  See “Know Your Stuff”.

Plagiarism

Before you start writing be aware that plagiarism is an absolutely no-no.  I have come across many articles where the writer has copied and pasted far more than what is acceptable for originality.  It is easy to spot a plagiarised article.  There are four main ways:

  • When copying and pasting from the Internet, there are often little superscript letter o’s at the end or beginning of the copy/paste.
  • Another tattle-tale sign is the little return arrow sign at the end of sentences.
  • Different writing styles.  The copy and paste portion will be of one style and/or calibre and the original portion of a different style and/or calibre
  • The plagiarised portion is seldom from one article.  The writer has copied and pasted from several articles in an attempt to make it one and the article ends up being disjointed and choppy.

Plagiarism doesn’t pay on any count.  The writer ends up with a poorly written article that is not even his/her own.  Plagiarism is the theft of intellectual property and is unethical if not illegal.  In some countries university students caught plagiarising their papers are expelled from their university and not allowed to attend another university nation-wide.  So it is a very serious offense.

As much as possible do not rely only on the Internet for information.  The Internet is not always the most reliable source of information.  You have to know which sites contain correct information and those that carry untruths or inadequate information.  Use your local library, bookstore or college/university textbooks, newspapers and magazines to get a broad spectrum of resource material.

Now that you have completed your research go back to your brainstorming paper.  If you have found other processes or steps for your “how to” topic, you will need to include these steps into your list of points to write on.  If you find that you have too many steps or processes you may want to break down your topic into more than one article.  For example if you have a topic on how to decorate a bedroom, you may find that after the research you have too many points.  If you write down all the points your article will be too large, too boring and too elaborate to handle in a concise 400 to 600 word “how to” article.  You might want to consider making several articles but have them each with a different decorating theme.  For example you may write one article on how to have a country style bedroom décor, and then another one on modern décor.  Or you might want to break it down dealing with walls & window dressing in one and the furniture and artifacts in another one.

On your brainstorming paper you may also have to sort the points around until you have all the steps in the correct order.  It is very important to have the steps or processes in the correct order.  There must be a logical order to your how to article.  (I will write future articles dealing specifically with how to write about processes and games, etc.  So watch for these articles in the coming week.)

Once you have done this, you are ready to write.

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