ometimes we write articles and other content that requires us to research for more information, and even, at times, conduct interviews with experts on the subject. How would you like to find a simple way to keep track of all your research information? Well, do I have good news for you. I have a simple method of my own, and today I will share that method with you so you too can keep track of all your research.
There are times when editors may ask for your research information, and some editors may even reimburse you for the phone calls, travel, or etc. required during your research. In order to provide the editor with all the information, you will need to have it available. In addition, if the information is organized, it will save you time when you have to present it to the editor. That's right friends! If you follow my method, you will have the information you need at your fingertips; no more sifting through stacks and stacks of papers to find what you need.
Do you have an interview coming up soon, or maybe you're planning to conduct one in the near future? When conducting your interview(s), create a table on your favorite word processing program. Next, print the table out and keep it by your desk. The table you create should have at least five columns: name, address, phone number, e-mail address of the interviewee, and the date the interview takes place. After creating your table, make a folder and file the information alphabetically.
There may be times when the information you're looking for may not be available on the Internet. In this case, you may need to travel to your local library, a historical site, or etc. to gather all or the rest of the information you're seeking. If your research requires you to travel to certain locations, you'll want to keep track of your mileage to and from. Even if your client isn't paying travel expenses, you'll still want to keep track of this information for tax purposes. To keep track of your writing-related travel, create and print out another table to take with you. Your table for traveling should have at least four columns: mileage (to and from), the name of the place you plan to visit, the city and state that you will be visiting, and the date that you will make the trip. Upon arriving home, figure up the total number of miles you traveled and record it in the milage column. After totaling your milage, file it alphabetically. Later, when it comes time to turn in this information, or when you're ready, add all of the miles together then record that number as a grand total at the end of your table.
Not only should you keep track of milage for any research you do, but you should also keep track of where the research information came from. Nothing is more unprofessional than having to tell a client you don't have what she wants.
Your research may come from many places. For example, you may search the Internet, or visit your local library to find books, old newspapers, magazines or etc. related to the subject you are researching. For the research you do on the Internet and/or through the library, your table should have at least six columns: date you conduct your research, where the research will be gathered from (Internet or library), the URL of the website you visit for information (if using the Internet), the title of the book, newspaper, magazine or etc. you will read through for information (if available), the title of the website where you find your information (if using the Internet), and the times that you begin and end your research (if you're being paid for research by the hour). Again, once you finish your research for the day, file the information alphabetically.
Finally, if your research requires you to make phone calls, create another table for keeping track of those. This table should consist of five columns: date the phone call is made, the phone number you call, the name of the person or company you call, the time you make the call, and the time you end the call. In addition to your table, you should also highlight the numbers on your phone bill when it comes in, and make sure to also make a copy of that phone bill. This allows your client to see that the table and the phone bill match. As always, file the table and copy of the phone bill.
Be sure to keep copies of all the information above for your records as well. Keeping copies of your own may benefit you later when you have to refer back to the information for another assignment.
Happy researching and good luck on finding the information you need!
Misti Sandefur is a full-time freelance writer from Southern Illinois. She has published two books, over 150 articles, is the editor of Coffee Break for Writers e-zine (coffeebreakforwriters.mistisandefur.com), and a contributing editor for Soaps.com (www.soaps.com/astheworldturns/).
During her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children. You can find out more about Misti on her official website (www.mistisandefur.com).