Researching an article can be tedious, almost soul-eating at times. It may feel like you’re spending all your time sifting through the mountains of sites just to find a few gems, and that’s both daunting and unfulfilling. However, hope is not lost. Below are five lessons taught through the Indiana Jones movies. By following them, you can become a master of research, making sure your articles are filled with relevant, quality sources.
1. Understand the Topic
At the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy has to pass through a few booby traps on his way to the Holy Grail. One of these traps is walking in the name of the Lord, or Jehovah. Indy, stepping without thinking, nearly falls to his death because he forgets that in Hebrew the letter J is written as the letter I.
The first step to research is knowing what you need to research. That means you need to understand the topic. While some topics are simple, others are more difficult. Don’t be like Indy and assume that you know about the topic. Take the time to research it before you start researching the article. The better you understand the topic, the easier it will be to find a unique, creative angle for your article, and the easier your research will be since you’ll have a better idea of what you’re looking for.
2. Know Your Audience
At the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy is in Peru. After escaping a booby-trapped temple with the idol it held, he finds himself surrounded by the native tribe, pointing spears at him. Then, his rival Rene Belloq appears and speaks to the natives in their tongue. Indy knows Belloq is lying, but he can’t speak the native language, so Belloq succeeds and makes off with the idol.
When researching an article, you need to understand your audience. By knowing who your article is geared toward, you can collect research that applies specifically to them. You don’t want your articles ridden with industry vernacular if your audience is made of people who have no industry experience. On the other hand, you don’t want to link to blogs of industry amateurs if your audience is people with high levels of experience in the subject-matter.
Don’t be like Indy, letting your article speak a different language than your audience. Connect with your audience by speaking in a way they understand.
3. Find Sources
Growing up with an archaeologist father and going on the adventures he did, Indy collected a great wealth of potential sources: his father; his tutor, Helen Seymour; Sallah; Marcus Brody; Prof. Ravenwood; Marion; Lawrence of Arabia; Rene Belloq; Short Round; Elsa; etc. All of these people were knowledgeable about something. Unfortunately, Indy didn’t use them nearly as much as he should’ve, relying instead on his own knowledge.
When researching an article, make sure you find a variety of sources. It’s always better to use multiple sources than only one since varied research makes your article stronger. If you use only one source, your article may turn out to be a mirror image of the source, and you don’t want that. Collect sources like Indy did, putting together a wealth of knowledge with diverse backgrounds.
4. Discern Good Sources from Bad Sources
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, most of the knowledge about the Holy Grail is gleaned through the journal of Henry Jones, Sr. Because the elder Jones spent so much time working on the journal and collecting information, the journal steers Indy in the correct direction throughout the movie, particularly in the temple. He knows exactly what to do with the booby traps because of the journal.
Elsa, on the other hand, is an uninformed Nazi. She doesn’t have a journal or any knowledge to back up her decisions. When her superior, Donovan, requests her help in choosing the Holy Grail, she picks out a grail, despite having no knowledge or information about which might be the correct one. That lack of information leads to Donovan’s death.
The internet is filled with sources. Just because an article or blog seems to be a credible source doesn’t mean it is. Check the credentials of the person writing it. Do they really know what they’re saying? Is the site trustworthy? If the author’s background is in the liberal arts, it’s somewhat unlikely that their claims on scientific matters can be trusted. You can generally rely on news and government sites, but individual blogs and forums are a different matter.
Don’t catch yourself being like Donovan relying on an Elsa. Make sure your sources are as qualified as the journal of Henry Jones, Sr.
5. Check the Facts
In the middle of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy infiltrates Castle Brunwald on the Austro-German border in an attempt to free his father, who is held captive there. Indy is aware of the Nazi presence at the castle, but he doesn’t realize that it’s a Nazi command center until he’s already inside. While he succeeds in freeing his father, the taste of freedom is fleeting because Elsa turns them in to Nazi custody.
Make sure you check the facts in the sources you use and the claims made in each article. Even if you’re pretty sure you know that what you’re saying is correct, verify it to be certain. Don’t be like Indy, finding yourself in a Nazi den when all it would’ve taken was a quick check to learn that that castle is a Nazi stronghold. By checking your facts, you can be certain that you’re providing accurate, quality information with each article.
Research may be difficult, but you don’t have to let it slow you down. By channeling your inner Indy, you can go on a researching adventure of your own, and by following these tips, you can be sure you always choose your sources wisely.