Scholarly Best Practices and Content Development
In today’s fast-paced world, new content is coming at us faster than we can keep up. Many people actively develop new content every day, whether in their professional roles or when choosing what to blog about, link to on social media, and actively share in some way. The research community has time-tested best practices that can help us develop meaningful content, whether for professional or personal use.
With increased access to information that can be used to create content, it is important to be mindful of the process and how we can most effectively connect with consumers in a way that is accurate and authentic. Without proper authentication, we run the risk of misconstruing or misrepresenting our main idea with potentially false information. A greater focus on critical thinking can go a long way toward addressing this issue. Here are some examples of how they can be used to approach content:
1. Use Solid Sources
Scholars use both primary and secondary sources as they delve into their topic on the quest for the truth. Primary sources include first-hand raw materials like artifacts, original writings, observed studies and recordings. Secondary sources may include everything from books to blogs on the topic, and can help them connect the dots, view the same subject from different viewpoints and gain more perspective. One way we can all apply the best practice of using multiple sources and going back to the source in our consumption of information is to click through to the original source of an article, blog post or tweet to research it further before drawing conclusions.
2. Think Critically
Scholars are trained to take a highly-disciplined analytical approach to what they see and hear. This is known as critical thinking. Through their research and writing, scholars are seasoned critical thinkers, trained in refusing to take things at face value, asking thought-provoking questions and challenging the status quo. As consumers of information, it can be tempting to take information at face value without asking the tough questions — or any questions at all. We benefit when we lay the groundwork for arriving at valid conclusions before making up our minds or sharing half-baked perspectives with others. Thinking critically may also help us avoid making false assumptions that get us into trouble in our everyday decision-making as well.
3. Overcome Bias
Scholars are well-aware of the extensive number of cognitive biases that make us susceptible to brain hacking, where we may not be truly in control of our own decision-making and opinions. For instance, “confirmation bias” draws us to information that confirms what we already believe. When we apply biases to the world around us, it is no wonder we are vulnerable to being hacked as individuals, groups and as a society. To assure they are looking at things objectively vs subjectively, scholars strive to consider a variety of contexts such as societal, historic, economic, geopolitical and commercial before drawing any conclusions. As we read new content, when we are willing to entertain new theories and embrace new perspectives with an open mind, we increase our chances to learn more and accept the truth at face value.
By using the methods above, content creators of all backgrounds can be assured that their content is developed in a way that is all-inclusive and accurate. If we work together to ensure the content we develop is held to scholarly standards, we will continue to set the bar higher for quality content and the perpetuation of accurate, objective stories.