The process of writing a Hub can involve a hefty amount of research, so we thought we’d take some time to chat with Leann Zarah, a parent and professional researcher about her knowledge-seeking craft and its place within the HubPages community.
HubPages: You were recently nominated in the HubPages Top of the Class contest for your Hub “What Makes Research Necessary Within and Beyond the Academe.” The Hub offers a great overview of the many ways in which research can be useful to people on a day to day basis, as a tool for building knowledge, exercising the mind, developing new products, finding work, etc… Do you think HubPages is a good place to post that research?
Leann Zarah: Hi, Simone. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for my first online writing nomination and for this first online interview. The nomination came at a time when I’ve been having doubts of my capability as a writer. It’s really such a huge surprise for me. So, thank you and to HubPages as well.
I’m a newbie Hubber. I’m also essentially new to online and SEO writing. What I appreciate about HubPages is that I can recognize the personal voice of fellow writers. I think (and I’m certain there are many others who’d agree with me) that the insights and knowledge they share are based on a number of factors: their experiences, the lessons they learned from other people, and the knowledge they acquired and/or are interested to acquire. And research is not merely about stats and figures, but it also delves on life, the meat (or spirit) of those stats and figures. Research marries quantity and quality. It helps us make sense of reality or a range of realities. It also fuels a diversity of possibilities.
HubPages provides a good platform that democratizes how research is presented. It does not strictly require a third-person point of reference or detachment to appear objective (unless, of course, the hubber prefers to adopt that format – which is likewise acceptable at HubPages). In essence, the site would like its writers to “talk” to the reader. Call it “objective blogging”. And readers can talk back with their comments or questions.
Also, and this may seem to be a superficial note, HubPages doesn’t require a 400-word article or Hub. But of course, it also doesn’t encourage just a line or two. What it requires though is quality writing. And writing isn’t just a matter of semantics or structure. It has to have substance – even when the writer wants to be funny.
Research can and does provide that substance. And when we study something that interests us, it’s best to form our own ideas based on what we’ve read. We can agree or disagree with the research findings; yet, it cannot be denied that the research process itself facilitates learning and activates critical thinking.
When we share the lessons we’ve gained with anyone willing to listen to what we have to say, or in this case with readers of our hubs, how we present these lessons can be as lengthy as a thousand words or less than 400 words. In either case, HubPages provides a venue for that. Although, of course, we just hope that we’ve presented the message in a clear and coherent manner, enough to convince or make the consumer of our written thoughts think that we’ve produced something with substance.
So, YES. HubPages is a good place to post that research and whatever it is that Hubbers learned from what they’ve researched on. To quote Alvin Toffler, “Information is power.” Online writing sites like HubPages undoubtedly generate such information. Research serves as a vital instrument to provide such information. Also, it can and does humble a researcher, given the fact that there’s so much to learn and that no one person nor a single institution or culture holds monopoly over knowledge.
As a sort of follow up question, have you ever researched something – either because you’re making a purchase, interested in something, or about to make a lifestyle change – and then published your findings as an article online?
Yes, I did. On HubPages, for instance, my first Hub was on self-love. Something that’s a personal interest. Incidentally, I have Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving. And I’ve always been interested in reading about Erich Fromm and his ideas, but I have yet to finish a book he wrote. Why? Simply because I end up reflecting each time I read something that I could relate with, resulting in unfinished reading. So with that first Hub, I had to do some online research and found a journal article that Fromm wrote about self-love. That’s shorter than The Art of Loving. But of course, aside from that, I had to read some stuff about John Calvin, Immanuel Kant, Max Stirner, and Friedrich Nietzche, people he mentioned in that article. I’ve read some of their works way back in college, but of course, I had to refresh my mind about them to be able to understand what Fromm was saying about self-love better.
The two hubs about roses and rose care are also based on research, as I’m not a gardener. Those two were originally a long article that a private client asked me to do. Sadly, I had my first online employment bump as the client didn’t pay for the work I did, so I opted to use that work and post it on HubPages. I forgot to mention that I like how HubPages gives its writers three lay-out options to present their Hubs.
What inspires most of the articles and Hubs you publish online?
Existential angsts, experiences. The nominated Hub, What Makes Research Necessary Within and Beyond the Academe, was based on my reflections as a researcher. I was thinking of integrating other sources, but I’m not fond of writing long hubs or articles (unless it’s a paid research gig). I can write long emails though. 🙂
I also made use of past academic papers (ones that I submitted to my professors) and past poems and blogs. Most of which are based on my interests in gender and labor issues, human relationships, education, and politics, among other things.
When you research something, do you have a fixed methodology you follow? And do you have any research tips for the community?
I’m partial to qualitative research because math, particularly statistics which quantitative research methodologies embrace with much gusto, is such a formidable ally. 🙂 Seriously, that’s my “Napoleon Waterloo”. My former research boss who digs stats very well though prefers qualitative research. And she allowed me to learn more about it. She also appreciates the convenience of online research, something that I also like to do. The Internet is a good research technology and it has also facilitated social networking with other researchers and writers.
Thus, for research tips, I encourage fellow Hubbers to optimize said technology and have an open-mind. There are studies that contradict one’s personal beliefs, and if we’re going to adopt a narrow perception about life and different realities (for instance, the various cultures from one community to another), it’s like we’re invalidating other people’s experiences or making ourselves superior than those whose ideas and experiences differ from us.
Of course, research can and does invalidate, but it’s important to invalidate with evidence, not mere beliefs which are prone to various interpretations and could incite heated discussions and animosity as can be seen in various site forums. Discussing research is different from using it to sow hatred or anger. If a hubber doesn’t agree with what a fellow hubber is saying, it’s best to counter that with a different take on the subject matter based on research. And if both refuse to give in, then there’s no harm in agreeing to disagree, as knowledge also thrives in diversity of opinions.
Also, have paper and pen handy. Bring them wherever you go. You can also use your cellphone to record topics or insights that you’ve thought of while doing whatever.
Read whenever you can whether online or offline. Going to the public or school library of course is more economical than sitting for hours reading online. This won’t be the case however if you have to drive or commute more than 15 minutes to get there, as gas companies like to create holes in consumer pockets. So, going online is more convenient, though more profitable for power and phone/Internet companies. Old school books, magazines, TV shows, and movies are also useful. Write down immediately your insights or your understanding of what you’ve read or watched.
Talk to people whether online or offline. Informal conversations can inspire topics to write about. I’m sure you’d remember portions of the talk that intrigued you, so write them down. Repeat or clarify your ideas with the person you’re talking to or ask her/him questions. Such process can help you recall parts of the talk. You can also copy and paste portions of the chat that you like to explore on. Do online research to feed your curiosity or to substantiate whatever it is that you want to share with others based on those informal talks.
Choose topics that interest you, enough to make you do research and turn them into original articles. Of course, never forget to cite sources.
Again, be open-minded. Not everyone shares the same opinion as you. This means then that we need to respect other people’s views even if we don’t agree with them. It’s best not to impose beliefs that we feel strongly about because doing so would only result in misunderstandings and hurt feelings. We have to remember that words can also wound, regardless of how or what medium they are said.
Last question- With other articles on Suite 101, Triond, RedGage, and Zarah’s Lane, you are by no means to writing online. What brought you to HubPages?
Fellow Suite101 writers would mention HubPages in the site’s forums as among the online writing sites. I haven’t read anything negative yet about HubPages though. None of whom posted a referral link, so I Googled on HubPages and applied. I’m still learning about SEO writing though. 🙂
[Thanks, Leann Zarah!]
Is your head still spinning from Leann Zarah’s wealth of sage advice? Here’s a review!
- Write objectively, and write well
- Utilize research to add quality and substance to your Hubs
- Present your information in a clear and understandable manner
- Research subjects in which you have interest
- If you do writing or research for a job that falls through, you can always publish the work on HubPages! (If, later on, someone wants to buy it, you can always take if off HP and sell it :D)
- Academic papers can make great Hubs
- Explore both qualitative and quantitative
- Utilize the resources and technology available to you
- Keep an open mind
- Keep a pen and paper handy; always be ready to take notes on the fly
- Talk to people and learn from them – that counts as research too!
- Respect the viewpoints of others – even if you don’t agree
Happy researching, Hubbers!