As someone who did analytical research for years, I like to delve into almost any topic. If I'm looking for information for a book I'm writing, I need to be careful not to go down the research rabbit hole or I might not surface for hours.
What do I look for in a source?
- Clear presentation. Run-on sentences, passive voice, and jargon send me back to a search engine.
- Good information presented with an opinion. Otherwise, it could be the advice of someone on a soapbox in a park.
- Links to other sources. I do go to Wikipedia as a starting point at times. If there are a number of reputable sources, I'll keep reading or use the online encyclopedia as a jumping off point.
I also appreciate authors who discuss their sources. Look at one of Erik Larsen's books -- nonfiction that tells stories as well as fiction. At the end of every book, he discusses his sources at length.
I'm at the Prime Crime conference at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis and tomorrow I'll moderate a panel on research and mystery writing. Tomorrow evening I'll let you know what more I've learned.