When one uses the word research transitively, the subject of the research is normally used as the object of the verb research (e.g. He researched the effects of acid rain for nearly a decade). Another common usage is having the target publication or presenting channel as the object of the verb research (e.g. She research a magazine article). (Note: I've consulted a few dictionaries for these usages.)

However, I found a small number of the usage researched X where the author actually means checked with X, or consulted X, or studied X, in order to answer Y where Y is the subject of the research.

For example, Google gave me these results when I searched for "researched several references",

  • "I researched several references that discuss the education, socialization and schooling of Native Americans in Minnesota."

  • "Students researched several references and gathered information regarding the environmental impact of their proposed airplane designs."

  • "I have researched several references and I know what the fair market value for a similar veh(icle) is."

This made me wonder... if the usage of 'researched X' where X is the source of references used in the research, not the subject of the research, considered a good usage?


In the examples given, "researched" could easily (and more properly) be replaced by the word "reviewed". I think the authors were trying to make it sound like they put in more intellectual effort than required to "review", by using the term "research".

I would consider those uses to be technically incorrect. You can "do research" by "consulting references", but you can't "research references".


In typical usage, finding and evaluated sources(references) is considered part of researching a topic. To me, "researching references" sounds like young student in his or her teens who has not yet developed an integrated understanding of what research scholarship consists. Grammatically, the sentence works, but it sounds sophomoric.


You say you 'found a small number of the usage researched X'. You then go on to provide examples all of which involved people saying they had 'researched references'. That doesn't seem to me quite the same thing as saying 'researched X'. (Where X presumabnly is the author of the reference.)

I am not sure exactly how you are 'researching X. Are you picking up the phone and speaking to them, or consulting them in some way? Or are you, as you seem to suggest, using their own published research.

If it is the former I would say: 'I consulted X in order to demonstrate Y'. However if it is the latter I would say 'I consulted/reviewed/the work/research done by X, in order to demonstrate Y.

  • I have a feeling that when people say researched X when X is not the subject of their researches, X usually are books, webpages, and papers published by others, not the authors. It also seems so in the three examples in my post above. I've also seen a phrase consulted dictionaries, so consulted X where X is not a person is possible, imho. Nov 25 '13 at 19:55
  • The search term "researched several references" couldn't cover all possibilities of researched X indeed. But I had to use it to narrow the results down to the use of research in the sense I wanted (which I believe that its usage correctness is doubtful). Nov 25 '13 at 19:59

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