Conducting research abroad


Even with the wealth of information online, many researchers still travel for work; not all libraries or museums have digital catalogs, and some resources simply must be visited in person.  As you can imagine, this presents some unique challenges, especially if you travel to places that use languages other than your own.  

Here are some recommendations for conducting research abroad:

Keep a translation app handy

While a translation app doesn’t replace the benefit of having an actual human translator, it can help alleviate some of the stress of navigating through a foreign catalog. Google’s translation app, for example, can translate words in real time using your phone camera; you just hold it over the text you want to translate (or take a photo), and it will translate the words for you. You can download the languages ahead of time, in case you have limited internet access. 

Study their cataloguing system

Classification systems vary internationally, so this is one thing you can study ahead of time to be more prepared when you get there. When in doubt, check their library website.

Reach out ahead of time

Communicate with researchers, locals, or scholars in the region you’re visiting. They may offer to help with translation, or help you navigate through local collections.

Document your findings the best you can 

If you’re visiting a library or museum temporarily, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to bring their resources back with you. Be ready to document your findings thoroughly: take pictures, scan documents, and record ideas so that you don’t miss anything when you return home.

Visit locations to get a sense of space and layout

If you're doing research for a historical novel, for instance, be sure to spend time visiting the places featured in your story. Knowing what your characters would have seen firsthand will give your story depth and rich details, and you can ensure that you're using factual information since you'll be at the actual location yourself. Writing about the Roman Colosseum, for example, is much more interesting (and easier) when you've seen it yourself, to accurately capture the scope of it.

Learn more research tips and tricks in The Citizen's Guide to Research, out now!

The Citizen's Guide to Research

I am really excited about the launch of my new email series, the Citizen's Guide to Research. I've been working on this for months! From my experience as an educator, journalist, and maker, I know that many people are daunted by research and data. If you're not in academia, the world of research and science seems like an utter mystery. It's been my goal for many years to come up with a way to make research more approachable for the public. It seemed like a great time to launch this new effort.

This guide is a weekly, bite-sized lesson about research sent straight to your inbox. It provides some easy, actionable steps that you can take to become a smarter, savvier citizen.

Lessons include:

  • How research is reported in the media;
  • How research is conducted;
  • How research is published and funded;
  • How to access published research;
  • How to interpret charts and graphs;
    and more, including interviews with researchers from all disciplines. 

The series is totally free, fun to read, and all you have to do is sign up here:

Name *


On a train to budapest, hungary

On a train to budapest, hungary

Welcome to the first post for my new project, Ashley Warren Research!

This has been a long time in the making; in some ways, I feel like I've been ready to start this for many, many years. But in reality, the idea started a few years ago, after I finished graduate school, and was working as a writer and teacher. Could I make it as an independent researcher? Is there such a thing? I didn't know. I still don't. 

What I do know is that I'm passionate about research, obsessed with it. It's what I love most at my very core. I love it all — academic research, journalistic research, literary research, marketing research, data science, etc. I want more opportunities to delve into it, so here I am, offering my abilities to the world.

This isn't the first time I've started something, but my hope is that this endeavor will be long-term. I'll be posting weekly here with research tips, cool research projects I'm working on, research in the news, and more. 

And of course, if you're in the market for an efficient, enthusiastic researcher who will go to the ends of the earth (literally) for your project — holla atcha girl.