Start with people. When you need to find something out, start asking around and see who knows what. People are living, current resources that talk back, smile, and surprise you. People can tell you who else to see, where to go, what books to read (and why); people can offer you shortcuts. They can also ask you questions: Why do you want to do this? What do you expect to find? Have you talked to Professor Smith yet? How far back do you want to go? Where do you plan to start?

Wherever you live, there are people who know more than you do about all kinds of things. It's your job as a researcher to discover these people and find out what they know. When you talk to people, you are in much the same situation as a newspaper reporter interviewing people to complete a story. In fact, you can learn a lot about interviewing people from investigative reporters. Here are some ideas that might help you collect information directly from people.

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