If you, at some point, find yourself shouting that exclamatory phrase, rest assured that you are not alone in that sentiment. Many people would rather eat dirt than spend hours immersed in a seemingly endless quest for information. Many innocent seekers have been trapped in the research black hole where time and space have no meaning, only to be released hours later frustrated and mentally drained. If you have ever done any in-depth research, you know what I mean.
First of all, I have to come clean with you and make a confession. Brace yourself… I love doing research. Yes, my name is Rick, and I am a research-aholic. It may be the result of my science background or love for learning new things, but I can spend hours searching for those illusive nuggets of information. Sure, some searches end in frustration, however, if I don’t find exactly what I'm seeking, I usually find something interesting.
The internet is a wonderful tool for researchers and it has made the task of finding information relatively easy. That’s both good and bad, as too much of a good thing is often not a good thing. Information overload is a real problem. When an innocent search request returns 57,569,456 results, you don’t know whether to be happy or overwhelmed.
Misinformation is also a big problem, and the internet is full of it… literally. But wait a minute… if it’s on the internet, it must be true... right? If everything posted on the internet was true, then the world would be a strange place indeed. Robert Staughton Lynd said, “Knowledge is power only if man knows what facts not to bother with.” So how do you separate the good, the bad, and the ugly?
The most obvious way to get good information is to use credible sources. One reliable website is much better than hundreds of sites with dubious intents. Common sense is your best tool here. Has the information been checked and vetted by other sources? Can you find other sites that can provide confirmation? What is the motivation of the information provider? Are they just trying to sell you something? Can you find other information that is a direct contradiction to your findings?
Concise, accurate, and reliable research is essential for many businesses, organizations, and individuals. But, good research takes time and effort, and a discerning eye. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi said, “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.” In some ways, researching is an art form, and… a voyage of discovery. To know is to seek, and as Albert Einstein remarked, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
Rick de Vries is the one of the principals of FunFrog Creative Communications, a company that provides a full range of communication services. For more information, please go to funfrogcreative.com.