When you are planning to write an online article, it may be that you intend to write to a subject about which you already know a great deal. This is always advisable and preferable as it not only makes the article easier to write, it means that it is likely to come across as more authentic to future readers, enhancing your reputation as a writer. If there comes a time, however, where certain parts of an article you are writing need to be researched or simply verified, it is better to know in advance what steps you should follow to obtain the necessary information or confirmation in the most appropriate and above all reliable fashion.
Researching Articles Online
An online search may be the first option that springs to mind should you find yourself needing to research a particular article. It is understandable and may seem logical that you should consider consulting the obvious resource while you are already sat at your computer. Unfortunately, information obtained online can be notoriously unreliable. Often, the information is not only of dubious quality, it is wholly inaccurate. This could lead to your article inadvertently providing false information and by quoting or referencing the page in question, you could be lending further credence to these inaccuracies as well as perhaps ultimately and irrevocably damaging your own future credibility and reputation as a writer.
If you are using Web resources for research, there are two factors you should bear in mind at all times. Take information only from reputable websites constructed by established experts in their field, or by quoting widely recognized and verifiable authorities. An example would be where you are writing about a town or city. It may be that there is a government or local tourist information authority website dedicated to the particular area which is not only sure to be reliable, it is likely to be kept largely up to date. You could also try searching for the location on video sites such as YouTube which may allow you to actually see and get a better feel for the location.
You should also cross-reference thus largely verify any details with unrelated but equally reliable sites wherever possible. This will significantly reduce the likelihood of errors or omissions. Where permitted, you should hyperlink to your principal source within the text of your article, or quote your sources in a resource box. This action will be welcomed by your readers, the author/publisher of the page which you are referencing and the search engines. Do be careful, however, not to simply quote directly from other sites as this can not only lead to potential plagiarism issues, it constitutes duplicate Internet content which search engines hate.
Travel and Visit Attractions
Visiting an attraction such as Windsor Castle helps a writer produce a far more authentic article
Travel articles are the obvious ones where making a personal visit is the perfect option. This will give you not only a feeling for your subject matter but provide the perfect opportunity for capturing appropriate photographs or even videos which can later be incorporated in your work. If writing about a place located within easy travel distance of your home, you should never neglect this option.
Articles on many other subjects may also be improved by getting out and speaking to people. This could be simply about talking to local people and obtaining different opinions and viewpoints on your subject. Political or sociological articles in particular would benefit from this proactive approach.
Personally Consult an Authority on the Subject
It will depend upon the subject of your article but you may have the option to simply ask someone for the information you require. If your article is on food and drink, you may know someone who is a professional chef or a long time home cook whom you trust to provide the relevant details. If your article is on a travel destination or visitor attraction that you have never visited, you may be able to call or e-mail a local tourist authority for the factual information you need. If there is a particular attraction that you want to mention in the area such as the quality sea fishing it provides, speak to a local fisherman or call a local tackle shop for likely catch details and recommendations on such as bait or tackle. Be careful only that you do either trust the person implicitly or that you inquire only of what is almost certain to be a reputable source.
Dependent upon the tone of the article you are writing and/or the nature of the site upon which you intend to publish, there may be nothing wrong with writing, "My Uncle Joe (a qualified chef of twenty years' experience) confirmed that..." This lends authority to your piece. Do be careful however that this intimate, first person approach is appropriate to the tone of the site and therefore likely to be acceptable to any subsequent editor/reviewer.
Visit your Local Reference Library
It is very easy to overlook the value of libraries in these modern days of Internet and electronic reading devices. Libraries largely still exist in their original form, even where they have in some ways adapted to suit the age of technology. Reference books from established authorities on almost any subject you care to name can still be found and consulted, perhaps with the necessary assistance of a friendly librarian. Don't underestimate the continued value of this excellent resource as the information contained in these books will not necessarily be available online and you can still unearth plenty of gold nugget facts from the traditional written word.
The overwhelming majority of writing professionals have to undertake research at one time or another. This is not something of which you should be ashamed, nor should you view it as an embarrassing gap in your knowledge of your chosen writing subject. You should instead see it as a necessary part of your trade, an opportunity to expand your subject knowledge and a feather in your cap that you are being so ethical in your writing to the ultimate benefit of your readers. Attention to detail of this type will improve the quality of your writing, it will make you more popular with your readers as your reliability comes to be recognized and it can only help propel you to the levels of success you may desire.