Effective research in technical writing
3 min read
Let's say you're writing on a topic which you have little knowledge on. You want to write as much as you can, but your shallow knowledge leads you to draft the writeup until you have 'enough knowledge'. You forgot the research option. In this post, we would learn how to make better research to get more info for our technical articles. So grab some water and let's get started.
An example of research in technical writing
A week after I picked up Docker, I had the basics in my head but didn't want to write an article that looks exactly like the thousands already out there. So I decide to ask key questions such as:
- What are the pain points that brought about the use of Docker
- Is Docker actually important to everyone
- Why should I even care? To answer those questions, I had to do some research. I read blog posts that answered those questions. Then I used the gathered knowledge in my writeup.
This example applies to other technologies. Doing this research helps you learn more about the topic at hand instead of having to wait for a few months when you've become 'an expert'.
How do I research then?
I'm glad you asked. I had to research this myself. I got some info from College info geek and Bolaji Ayodeji's blog The first is ideally meant for academic research, but there were takeaways.
- Refine the topic: We may need to scale down on what we are writing on
- Find key sources: This could be popular blog sites like CSS-tricks, Digital Ocean and Freecodecamp
Here are the takeaways from Bolaji's post on asking effective questions:
- Use better google queries, adding keywords and sites names. Like this
css specificity site:css-tricks.com
- Ask questions on dev communities such as Stackoverflow, freecodecamp or even Twitter. You could get more info for your post.
I did a variation of this some time ago. I requested some help from Didicodes on Twitter to post a dev poll I could use in my article. My post was more complete with that tweet. I'm grateful for that.
So, now we have learned more on effective research for technical articles, we can then write a killer post by:
- Writing content
- Linking to other posts on the topic
- Adding quality images from Pexels, Unsplash, etc. I use Canva for my covers
- Adding memes once or twice
- Adding content like StackOverflow answers, tweets, etc if necessary
You have learned the basics developer/technical-writer research in this post. Here are the key takeaways:
- Know what you are writing on
- Write within your current knowledge
- Ask some key questions
- Get answers using advanced search tools
- Use the new knowledge to write more content that would make your post relevant
Share this article if you found it useful. Please, leave a like (or multiple). Adios ✌🏽🧡