Only takes 5 clues

Only Takes 5 Clues

Do you need to find out what kind plants will grow best on your patio? Do you want to understand the stock market? What about understanding teenage angst? How about baking a pie? Or painting your living room? No matter what kind of project you are undertaking, proper research can make all of the difference in the world. The term “research” has all sorts of negative associations, and often brings back frightening images of dusty encyclopedias or gloomy library silence. It can seem a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The internet and other forms of media have changed the definition of research, and have made finding information much easier. Unfortunately, the new tools available have also made weeding out irrelevant or erroneous information much more difficult. Below are 5 “Do’s” that will help you find what you need, while avoiding an information overload. 1. Use the web – with caution. You can search for just about anything online, and get a ton of results. Don’t arbitrarily discard commercial sites, but understand if they are selling something the information you read is probably biased. If a site has valuable information, check the references (often provided as a quick link) and read the source information if possible. Decide if it’s based on some legitimate research, or just someone spouting off. Check a few different sources, and try to match up the answers you get. 2. Use the library. I know it sounds corny, but inside the library (or even by phone or email) you have access to the people who know the most about research — librarians. These are highly trained specialists that can put a world of information at your disposable. They will help you find relevant material you can understand, and may even be able to provide you with a quick answer. Best of all, you pay nothing for the service. 3. Ask around. You might be surprised at how many of your buddies are knowledgeable sources of information about all sorts of things. If they don’t know, they probably know someone who does. Networking can be a great asset, and can save you tons of time. People are usually eager to help someone, and you can build a new relationship, or making an existing one even stronger. 4. Take some time to plan your research. If you have a large task in front of you, take the time to break the big question down into component parts. Plan what order you would like to approach the problem, and then tackle each piece separately. Taking notes can be helpful with this approach. 5. Use your head. After you’ve found information, take a bit of time to think about it, and decide if it’s valuable to you. Apply what you have learned to your particular situation, and don’t be afraid to use your judgment to weed out advice or scenarios that do not apply. After all, it’s your project. Enjoy your research. Even if your project doesn’t pan out, it is always valuable to learn something new. For more information on research, visit and

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