By Dustin Bertschman '11; Revised by Matt Echelberry '12

When the word “researcher” is mentioned, an image of a person in a library with stacks of books surrounding him appears in a person’s head. This job sounds like a great job for people who like to learn new facts, but do not want to write a paper. Researchers, or fact checkers as some people call them, go out and research a topic that is given to them. It could be historical background or just simple geographical information. These jobs are everywhere, from news magazines to fiction writing, because even fiction needs facts (DeGalen and Lambert 125). News stations like NBC News and popular magazines like Us Magazine have fact checkers who double-check the information, so everything in the article is correct and will not be refuted by anyone (Deahl 1). An example of what a research’s job entails is a journalist is writing a biographical piece on J.R.R. Tolkien and writes that Tolkien fought during World War II. The researcher would go back to check this fact for validity. The researcher would discover that Tolkien did not fight in World War II, but in World War I, which he would bring to the writer’s attention before the article is published. Researchers are the unsung heroes of the writing industry.

Skills, Qualifications, and Training

“A high level of general knowledge, curiosity, persistence, perseverance, and attention to detail are salient qualifications of a researcher” (DeGalan and Lambert 126). Though these qualifications sound like only a few people can become researchers, this is not true. By coming to Heidelberg, you have shown that you have curiosity, and a good level of general knowledge. During your years at Heidelberg, you will gain a higher level of knowledge and you will learn to be persistent, to persevere, and to have attention to detail through all the works you will be doing. So any English Major can be a researcher. Another part to a researcher’s job is the ability to talk to people. Former Guide Rachel Deahl explains, “Because a journalist’s job is often about getting someone to say something they might not want to say, a fact checker needs to be wary of sources changing their minds after the fact” (Deahl 1). This sounds intimidating. Talking to people is not a strong suit for many people. Through giving presentations at Heidelberg, you will overcome your fear of talking to people. Now you might be wondering where you would receive training for being a researcher, the answer is pretty simple: experience. Throughout your years here, you will do many papers and assignments that will require you to research your topic. Sometimes the facts will not come easily, so you will be forced to dig deep until you find the information you need. All of the hours you will spend researching gives you experience on how to discover facts. Remember, resourcefulness will be your greatest tool (DeGalen and Lambert 126).

Researcher at Heidelberg

Here at Heidelberg, there are many classes and groups that can provide you with the knowledge and experience you need to be a great researcher. One of the best groups you can join is the Kilikilik, the Heidelberg student newspaper. As with any news publication, Kilikilik writers find newsworthy articles and write about them, while editors edit and fact check those stories. This definitely will give good experience on how to conduct an interview, which is an invaluable tool in a researcher’s arsenal. Going off of this, taking the Introduction to Journalism class will give you experience of researching in a short window of time. As for pure researching, classes like Introduction to Literary Theory, Technical Writing, and Introduction to Linguistics will provide you with experience on how to research a topic.

Work Cited

  • DeGalan, Julie, and Stephen Lambert. Great Jobs for English Majors. 2nd ed. Chicago: VGM Career Horizons, 2000. Print
  • Deahl, Rachel. “Fact Checker: How to Become a Fact Checker.” The New York Times Company, 2011. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.

Additional Information

“Have you Hugged a Fact Checker Today?” Chronicle of Higher Education by Andrew Furman

“Inside the World’s Largest Fact Checking Operation: A conversation with two staffers at Der Spiegel”