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Research: Sometimes It's The Death of a Hub

Updated on July 24, 2016
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

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It's how we build our hubs, but sometimes it is their demise.

I have written more than one hundred hubs. For most of them my first step after deciding on a topic was to start the search for facts and statistics to support my position. I did my research.

This effort is made much easier with the advent of the Internet. Instead of a trip to the library or the courthouse and a dive into the sea of microfiche, a click here and a click there, and the information is literally at my fingertips. If HubPages had been around in the horse and buggy days before computers and all that's come along with them, we hubbers would be lucky to produce a single hub a week instead of several a day.

But we hubbers must realize we won't always be happy with what we find once we begin our search to validate our presumptions. I've started writing hubs with all the conviction in the world, only to change my mind on the subject by the end of the article. I started a hub on the tragedy of losing the Fairness Doctrine when it was undone by the Federal Communication Commission at the urging of the second President Bush. By the time I finished my research, I'd come a full 360 degrees to the opposite view.

I've also written several position papers/hubs, but in all fairness felt it was necessary to give a couple of paragraphs to opposing views. In all honesty, I've been known to add opposing statistics and facts as a result of comments I've received from other hubbers who knew more about the subject than I did. And thank God for them! A recent submission of mine on the subject of climate change is an example of this experience.

Then there have been the times when I started a hub with all the enthusiasm of the uninformed, only to turn up evidence that proved my assumptions inaccurate, mistaken, or just plain wrong. As a result, the hub goes the way of unicorns and dinosaurs, never to be seen or heard of again.

Recently:

I was determined to write a scathing account of the unfairness of the retirement benefits of congressmen, only to learn the terms are not as out-of-line as I presumed from what I'd heard and read on the subject. The following is what I learned from my research.

With only a few exceptions, health and retirement benefits for members of Congress are the same as for any employee of the federal government. They pay Social Security taxes and are eligible for retirement benefits of just under $36,000 a year at the age of 62 if they have served five years in office and have not been convicted of a crime. Retirement may begin at age 50 with 20 years' service, or at any age with 25 years' service. Congressmen may opt to collect a reduced pension with 10 years of service at ages 55 to 57, depending on their birth year.

Because working in Congress is subject to the vagrancies of elections, members and their staffs receive a larger retirement payment than other government employees for each year of service. The other side of that coin is they pay a higher percentage into the retirement program than other federal workers – 1.3 percent instead of 0.8 percent.

The real perk for congressmen is that they set their own annual salaries, currently $174,000. Another perk is they may exempt themselves from pay freezes when they are set by the president for federal employees.

Also:

I planned a hub on the absurdity of not holding a vote for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame this year (2013). I was incensed that the best pitcher in all of baseball (in my humble opinion, which I intended to support with the most important thing in the sport - stats) would be robbed of being inducted on his first ballot. It was too outrageous an injustice for me not to come to the defense of the incomparable Greg Maddux. Within moments of beginning my research I learned a vote was held - and nobody got enough votes to make the cut.

For only the eighth time in Major League Baseball history no player received the 75 percent of the vote necessary for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has been voting on the best in the game since 1936. Failure to choose a single inductee has not happened in seventeen years. That ballot was no doubt affected by the player's strike of 1994.

Michael Weiner, executive director of the Players Association, called the result “simply unfair” and penalized players whose names were cleared of steroid use in legal proceedings and others who were never even implicated. He said making it to Cooperstown should not be easy, but the hard part should be what the player does on the field – not any other factors.

This year’s ballot featured 37 candidates, including 24 first-timers. One of those Hall of Fame “rookies” was Craig Biggio, who finished his career with 3,060 career hits. He was the leading vote-getter with 68.2 percent of the vote and will be eligible to be on the ballot next year. Players who don't get at least five percent of the vote may not be on the ballot a second time.

Hubbers are free:

We may write about anything. What a freedom. But with each freedom we enjoy, there comes a responsibility. If I'm venting my opinions, nobody can tell me I'm wrong. (They can yell at me in ALL CAPS, but they can't delete what I've written.) They are simply my opinions. But if I've chosen a topic to share factually, I must be careful to represent the facts accurately (and not just because I'm an old newspaperwoman). If we want HubPages to remain respected in the industry and not reduced to Blog status, we have to be responsible to the facts.

It's always disappointing to find I'm chasing the wrong rabbit down the wrong hole when my research shows me I'm wrong. But there will always be new things to write about. There is simply no way around my responsibility to try my best to get it right - if I'm going to write about it at all.






Books and EBooks by Kathleen Cochran

From "The Paper" - the movie

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nice job of presenting some important information in a somewhat lighthearted way. Chasing the wrong rabbit down the wrong hole is a classic line. Well done my friend.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      This is a terrific hub about the responsibility of the writer to provide accurate information in a non-fiction (informational content) hub, Kathleen. I dumped a couple of unfinished hubs when further research showed inconsistencies in what I thought were "facts."

      Like you, I published a hub that garnered additional relevant information from readers' comments, which I considered important enough that I revised the hub to include it.

      I did some moonlighting for newspapers "back in the day", but mainly wrote feature articles. Still, the experience taught me the importance of getting one's facts straight before committing them to the computer screen and clicking "Publish."

      The Internet is clogged with "content" and "opinion" pieces, and I've often encountered writing that was either lightweight, inaccurate or both. HubPages is a wonderful venue for writing about whatever topic (within the HP rules) that we choose. Since we have this freedom, it behooves us as writers to ensure our articles are factual.

      Voted Up+++ and shared

      Jaye

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks guys!

      In newspapers we used to have a saying:

      Doctors bury their mistakes.

      Car dealers recall theirs.

      Newspapers publish theirs - with our names in the byline!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Excellent Hub!

      Did you research it?

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      WillStarr: Absolutely. I had to Google the correct spelling of responsibility. Thanks for the read, friend.

    • grayghost profile image

      grayghost 4 years ago

      What a refreshing point of view! If more writers showed the kind of integrity and desire for the truth you express here in the Hub and the comments, think of how the pool of source material would improve along with it!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks grayghost. You make an excellent point. For hubbers who aspire to be found through Google and source words for their informative hubs, accuracy must be their goal.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      grayghost is certainly right. What a refreshing, moral, and commendable attitude you have with respect to hubbing in specific, writing in general, and dealing with the facts, the truth. This is a great hub, well-written, interesting, and you effectively made several important points. I am impressed. Sharing.

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 4 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      An interesting point, and food for thought; I'm curious, though, as to why you didn't take the information you acquired through your research and present it as a Hub with the new findings.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      This should be required reading. I'm not a journalist by profession, but I believe in the responsibility of being accurate in what you write about, especially here on the web since so many more people are accessing the information so quickly. Voted up.

    • Marie Brannon profile image

      Marie Brannon 4 years ago from Pearland, Texas

      Awesome! Congratulations from another 'old newspaper woman'. Or is it 'old newspaper' woman? Or old 'newspaperwoman'. Any way you phrase it, I'm there. LOL. I would add that sometimes doing research teaches me that my topic has already been beaten to death on the Web, and I should just move on and find a better topic.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Excellent. Brave of you to admit you have found facts that didn't match your understanding and had the flexibility to see another viewpoint.

      An acquaintance, who is also an author, has traveled college campuses since the 70's giving talks, doing research, and talking to students. He has made the observation that students in the 70's 80's and 90's asked questions and discussed topics if they didn't agree with him. The new and enlightened student no longer discusses issues. The enlightened student shouts down anyone they disagree with. I am glad you are not one of them. I too have found that the research has been the death of a hub as regularly as it has been the catalyst.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      AMFredenburg: You've given me food for thought. I'm going to have to chew on your comments for a while, then possibly do some rewrites.

      tirelesstraveler: I'd be interested to hear other opinions on today's youth. I'd hate to think they are taking after so many in my generation who only want to shout at anyone who disagrees with them.

      Marie: I looked it up! It's newspaperwoman. Now I have to do an edit!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hey Marie: I got it right! But did I put the period in the right place - inside the parenthesis or outside?

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      phdast: Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      parentheses - now I'm getting paranoid. OMG now I have to look up paranoid!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Cyndi10: From your mouth to God's ears on the required reading. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      As always learned something new... Thanks for this presentation.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      carol7777: That is the highest praise. Thanks.

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 4 years ago

      That is very interesting indeed, yes.

      I haven't been here long and so I only have a few hubs published so far but all of them have required quite a lot of research to make sure that the facts are right. I even thought about referencing all my sources but then considered that perhaps the academic seriousness of that would be the wrong 'tone' for Hubpages which is a lot more informal.

      For me, I don't think I'll be writing on topics of a personal or opinion-based nature here but I still think that one of the good things about doing any research - particularly if it is an area - in science say - to which new and changing ideas might be added, is the opportunity to have my ideas challenged, changed and updated. I don't like dogmatism of any sort and I wouldn't want to be guilty of it.

      Thanks for an insightful and entertaining read. Bless you :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I love to see sources sited. Sometimes I read a hub and I think: they knew all that off the top of their head? No! Thanks for your comments and welcome to HP and my hubs.

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 4 years ago

      Funnily enough I just saw a hub which had a huge list of references - I think someone had recycled an old college assignment! Why not? I have to confess I didn't read it but, yes, I do like to be able to double-check information if it is for more than entertainment purposes, too.

      Thanks for the welcome and I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

      :)

    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

      Thanks - this makes so much sense, and is so gracefully written.

      When I write hubs, I like to name experts and include links to their articles -- that way my hub can be a starting point for readers to learn more a about a topic.

      That's what I'd like to see more of on some hubs -- particularly history, literature, and how-to.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I've had hbs dinged for duplicate content for citing my sources and not paraphrasing their content. Kind of goes against my grain as a former reporter. But I understand HP doesn't want hubbers to just cut and paste out of Wikipedia! Even using my own words, I like to give credit to my sources. Does anybody really believe writers just carry all this information around in our heads? Thanks for reading and commenting and welcome to my hubs!

    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

      I have been doing a fair lot of quoting from different sources -- but it's been either 1-3 individual haiku, one sentence quotations, or 3 line quotations with a good many ellipses . . . and so far, so good!

      Maybe using just a few lines from a variety of sources helps.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      KrisL - Thanks for sharing your experiences. It would be helpful if we hubbers did more of this, especially in the area of sources.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      When I see your name I know I am in for a good read and here again you proved me right. I totally agree with all you've said. To keep a high standard we need to verify the facts. The best part though is making those facts interesting to read!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • profile image

      mbuggieh 3 years ago

      Now, if we could just bottle and sell this hub as an antidote to much of what is out there, we'd be in business.

      I find your statement: "Then there have been the times when I started a hub with all the enthusiasm of the uninformed, only to turn up evidence that proved my assumptions inaccurate, mistaken, or just plain wrong. As a result, the hub goes the way of unicorns and dinosaurs, never to be seen or heard of again." to be one which many (if not most) "hubbers" should take heed of on a daily basis and certainly every time before they click on the "post" or "reply" button.

      Thanks!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Kathleen I always enjoy your insightful hubs and this one is no exception..

      Thanks for reminding us that when we write factual articles we do need to get it right & make it clear that we & HubPages has some integrity..VUU&I cheers

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      mbuggieh: This must be your first comment on one of my hubs. I surely wouldn't have forgotten that handle! There must be a story behind that name. Thanks for your encouragement!

      carter06: I always appreciate the contribution your comments make to my hubs. Can I get a translation on the VUU&I?

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Sure can..Up, Useful & Interesting..sorry forgot Awesome:)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Cool. I'm going to start using that. I've been to Sydney (on New Year's Eve - the bridge!) and the Great Barrier Reef. Where is Cronulla?

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Just about 20 minutes south east of the city..that bridge is pretty spectacular @ NY's I have to say.. If u r over my way anytime again would love to shout you a coffee/drink..cheers

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Wouldn't that be wonderful! But I'm going to have to sell a bunch more of my books and hubs to make it back any time soon.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 24 months ago from Chicago Area

      Can't tell you how many hubs I've started and then deleted for this exact reason! Sometimes it's difficult to separate our passions and opinions from facts. But as you note, that's a writer's responsibility. Voted up, useful, interesting and sharing!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 24 months ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is something that I haven't thought about, as I don't write many hubs that require research. It was very interesting to read your take on things and how your mind changed over the course of your research.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 24 months ago

      An interesting and useful perspective. I have definitely had somethings that did not pan out.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 24 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Glad to know I'm not the only one. I guess the hubbers we need to worry about are those with opinions that are not dissuaded by the facts. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 24 months ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I agree completely and coincidentally, I once also started to gather facts about congress being outrageously entitled and claiming the hoi-poiloi (the commoners) shouldn't be "entitled" to things like healthcare and retirement and, just as you describe in above, once I read up on it, decided they weren't all riding around in solid gold golf carts with a free ride on everything. Don't get me wrong-- I still think they are over-paid and over-entitled and hypocritical at best-- but the facts diminished my outrage.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 24 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Unnamed: Don't worry. There are so many other things to be outraged about when it comes to Congress!!!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 24 months ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi,

      Awesome hub! Btw, I was on it through the courtesy of Heidi Thorne, who shared it.

      I kind of agree with you, but I tend to write after doing research that I know will lead me to the result I want. In any case, I believe in the following two quotes when it comes to research:

      1. Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything. ~Gregg Easterbrook

      2. Statistics are like women; mirrors of purest virtue and truth, or like whores to use as one pleases. ~Theodor Billroth

      Finally, I do tend to throw in lots of facts (research if you will) in my articles/hubs.

      Thanks for writing a hub on my primary interest.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 24 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks for adding your thoughts to this hub. Those are two quotes I'm not familiar with, but sure say a lot. I tend to shop the same way I write hubs. I decide what I want, then go looking for it. Your way might be less frustrating!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 21 months ago from Florida

      I try and write Hubs based on my real life experiences with first hand knowledge. Guess that's why I don't write as many Hubs as I would like. I lead a pretty boring life!

      I have been working on a topic I do have first hand knowledge of; I need to get that one finished.

      Voted this UP, etc. and shared.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 21 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      "Retirement may begin at age 50" for a congressman, with averaging salaries of "$174,000" ... Hmm, if this is not reason enough to write a "scathing" report, I am not sure what is. Really, what would it take to see them in an unfavorable light? Would they have to eat their own children like Cronus?

      "The national average wage index for 2013 is 44,888.16" - I took this data from the Official Social Security Website: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/AWI.html

      So, those who "serve the public" get four times as much as those they "serve". They get lobbied by interest groups, which provides an entirely new set of perks and yet, this is not outrageous. If it was, things would change - people would force the change.

      Ohh well ... I guess people like being treated like second class citizens. "But with each freedom we enjoy, there comes a responsibility." Perhaps the common man's responsibility is to just obey ... for now.

      Good article. Thank You for writing it.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 21 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Great hub with some important thoughts for the writers.

      I usually write on topics I am familiar with or experienced personally. As you said research is necessary because many people refer to the Internet to get their answers and that should be provided correctly.

      I avoid topics which can start arguments.

      Thanks for sharing this insightful hub. Voted up!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 21 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Mary, Mr. Happy, and Chitrangada: Thank your for your comments. I also have many hubs written from my personal experience. I'm often content to be my own source!

      There are many perks that augment a congressman's retirement - that is for sure. Many say that is the reason people seek these offices. Good point.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 9 months ago from Queensland Australia

      An interesting and helpful hub, Kathleen. Many of my hubs are poetry which don't require research, but occasionally I write one that does and I often spend weeks researching those. It is important to get your facts right. Well done here.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 9 months ago from Chicago Area

      Glad Jodah commented to help this hub resurface! As I commented some time ago, we have to evaluate our opinions and passions in light of facts. Research is the litmus test that helps keep us in check. Sharing again here on HP!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 9 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Jodah and Heidi: Thanks for adding to this hub with your comments. I appreciate it.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 9 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Kathleen - I had forgotten what a fair-minded, balanced, and great Hub this was/is. You have hit the nail on the head. Sadly, many, if not most Americans do not distinguish between their own opinion-feelings-desires and fact-reality-truth. So, rather vicious and pointless arguments go on and on because people are simply battering each other with their strongly held opinions. And the "discussion" benefits no one and changes nothing. We need constant reminders to do the research and to present the facts. Great Hub. :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 9 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      T: Thank you for the encouraging words that come from you so often. Now I need to "do the work" and write some more.

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