As of 2014, here is how I do research for a post. Depending on the post, I do some, none or all of the following:
First I search:
- Saved links – I have a computer file of post ideas, quotes and saved links to Internet pages. This is the general starting point.
- Internet search – mainly:
The Internet is a mile wide and an inch deep. It is also the biggest rumour mill in history. Knowing that, I go through maybe ten of the more interesting links.
- Kindle search – I have 399 books on my Kindle. I read through the references that look promising. Sometimes this leads to reading whole chapters of books, as can the:
- Book search – I have about a thousand printed books. I look through those that might have something.
- Library search – I rarely do this because it can take a week for a requested book to arrive.
- Word history – I look this up in:
- Wikipedia – From experience I know that some of it is flat-out wrong. Sometimes I do not even look at the Wikipedia so that I do not wind up unconsciously repeating it. I read it mainly for background. For example, when I did a post on the Kingdom of Hawaii, I used it to read about the Dole family to get an idea of who they were.
- Abagond – my blog! I read related posts or search the comments and an outdated version of my blogroll.
- Google Images – where nearly all my images come from.
Then I read through all of that:
- Sometimes there is not enough for a single post.
- Sometimes there is enough for several related posts.
- Sometimes I find out that I have bitten off more than I can chew.
- Sometimes, to limit the scope of research to manageable proportions, I base a post on just one chapter of a book.
Then I let it marinate in my brain for a while. Sleeping helps.
Then I write.
When I am cutting the post down to 500 words, I think about what will get challenged in the comments and how I will defend it. This leads to a round of fact checking and getting rid of weaker passages.
Trusted sources: From the comments I get and from reading different sources I learn what I can trust:
- printed books, especially those by scholars;
- straight news – especially
- Democracy Now!,
The main thing I lack are good sources on Africa. Well, and a reading knowledge of Chinese, Arabic and Swahili.
Listing sources: My general practice is to not list my sources for a post. That might seem kind of nuts – it does to me right now writing this post – but my view has long been that I am not a scholar running a scholarly blog, so anything I can know, anyone can know.
– Abagond, 2014, 2015.