If you’re a blogger, you’re already familiar with research. You probably hyperlink to your source when you cite a fact, and you might do a quick Google search before you start writing to see if there’s any relevant info that you should include.
The same principles apply with ebooks, but are even more important.
The problem with researching on the web, where you’ll probably do most of your research, is that there is so much content. And while I’m sure that all your content is great, not everyone’s is.
Using academic research tools such as Google Scholar, JSTOR, and EBSCO will help you find peer-reviewed papers. Doing a regular Google search is fine too as long as you check your sources. Research the websites that you want to cite.
Who owns them? What are their credentials? How well written is the content? Are they well-respected by others in their field?
For example, Copyblogger isn’t scholarly, but I frequently link to it in these lessons because it’s one of the most respected content marketing sites.
As you research, take notes. Your notes should include the information that you found useful, where you found it (the specific URL or page number), and when you found it.
If you’re using a direct quote, place quotation marks in your notes so that you know you’re quoting word-for-word and not paraphrasing.
When you quote or give evidence in your writing you need to cite your sources, so you’ll be glad that you kept track of them in your notes while researching.
Since websites are always changing, your citation must include the date that you accessed a website.
How much research should you do?
Unless you’re writing a highly specialized ebook, you probably don’t want lots of footnotes and a lengthy works cited page. But you also don’t want readers to question whether your basic facts are true.
Statistics, quotes, facts that aren’t commonly known, and ideas that aren’t your own must be cited.
A common fact, such as “Canada is in North America” or “Steve Jobs lived from 1955-2011” doesn’t need a citation, but a more obscure or surprising fact, like “Amazon sells more ebooks than print books”, should have a source.
Your ideas are yours, so they don’t need a citation, but give credit to the people who inspired your ideas by citing them.