Recently I was writing and preparing papers and reports. Writing papers and reports is always according to the requirements or the terms of reference. There is a difference between requirements and terms of reference. Requirements are specifically required. Terms of reference are not only specifically required, but also refer to a theoretical framework or approach for the written work.
In general writing according to requirements or terms of reference is quite straightforward. What is less straightforward is research. If the word “research” is not obvious enough just look at the verb “to search”. When the prefix “re-“ is attached it literally means to search again. To search again or further is the nature of research.
In research one does not simply search for answers, one seeks for ways to confirm them based on additional information. In research the researcher has to have the attitude, a state of readiness to devote his or her time and energy to find answers and information. Research can be extremely slow and frustrating and the pay-off can be extreme. The findings and results can be as tiny as a speck of dust and can be as massive as a mountain.
While working on my papers and reports I often encountered how some people underestimated research. It is the year 2014 and there were people who could not even pick up relevant sources right in front of them, books or websites. It is strange to experience that inability in a time where on-line search engines shape and influence life directly and indirectly. The word “google” is even a verb.
My work method is simple as that keeps most things simple.
1. What are the requirements or the terms of reference? Get the information!
2. What is the topic? Get the information!
3. Are additional purposes , research methods or writing methods to be included? Get the information!
4. When 1 to 3 are clear, gather the relevant sources and draft the basic structure of the work.
5. When 4 is done fill in the gaps and prepare draft materials until you have enough for a final edit.
Research and editing are intensive. Research takes time as information and methods require a critical attitude. Editing is the process in which all contents are put together. The end result has to make sense and address its audience.
The importance of research cannot be measured. Research is invaluable for new answers and discoveries.