Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

One thing I've found since starting my freelance writing career is that research is essential for many articles. Even if you know the subject enough to write off the top of your head, there are some sites that require you to document sources. So I thought I'd share a few of my favorite research places.

If you need a study to back up a claim on something medical related, you can't go wrong with PubMed. A service of the US Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, PubMed allows users to search through literally millions of citations from medical and science journals. The search does include some foreign language journal and there are not always translations. In most cases, results of your search will give you abstracts and point you to wherever you need to go to read the full text. I have found PubMed especially helpful in writing articles on alternative health such as herbs. My clients have really liked having scientific studies to back up the claims. "In a 2004 study by British researchers, the herb was found to increase energy by 80%." is a lot more effective than "The herb increases energy."

If you want to look for information in books, but don't feel like wading through the offerings at your local library, Google Books can help. Just type in your search terms and it will search through its large library of books. Depending on the book, you may be able to read it online entirely, get a preview or, in some cases, get nothing more than the name of the book and author. If you're interested in those that do not offer full text, you can then check your library to see if they have a copy available.

The CIA World Factbook is a good jumping off point if you are writing about countries you are not familiar with. It gives information and statistics on the country's geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues. You can find out everything from the average life expectancy to how many cell phones there are in the country.

Ask your local library if there is a state program that offers reference material. I'm not sure about other states, but I know in my home state of North Carolina, we have access to a large online database that links us to reference sites for all kinds of subjects from auto repair to science and technology. Many of the sites normally require membership fees, but by going through the state database, residents are able to access the information for free. All I had to do was give my local library a call and ask for the password for home access. If you are a freelance writer living in North Carolina, leave me a comment and I'll help you get set up.


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