Our thanks to author and internet research guru Geri Spieler for this informative guest post. Whether researching info for a book or an upcoming blog post, here are some helpful hints and sites!
Conducting Internet research is a challenge. It’s time consuming, often confusing and who ever thought too much information could be a problem? The Internet has opened up the world of information gathering to the extent that it can be overwhelming and therefore problematic. Standard Google searches can be conflicting, redundant and often incomplete.
Common complaints for online research include:
- Validating the information for reliability
- Relevance of the results.
- Multiple points of view and the inability to source the information
- Time intensive
There is help. There are hundreds of research techniques that will smooth out the bumpy road to Internet information. Effective research tools can cut research time significantly as well as reduce the amount of irrelevant information and improve the reliability of the results.
Follow these research secrets to streamline your process and give you the skills and tools you need to conduct fast, effective investigations.
- Understand the different between Data and Information. DATA is a single piece of information, as a fact, statistic, code or an item. It may be a fact assumed a matter of direct observation. INFORMATION is the knowledge received concerning a particular fact or circumstance.
- Know how to remove ambiguity in your search. Many words have different meanings such as the word “Capital” for example: Seat of government, money, letter or crime.
- Use standard “Search Strings” to narrow your search and improve results. For example: The hyphen search string, The wildcard search, The date range search, The exact search using quotation marks, Blog keyword search: inurl, The file type search such as a PDF, the link search: a URL. There is “Find” search using “either or” and the definition search putting in define:writing, and the Boolean search: And, Or, Not, +:
- Use the “Deep Web” which is 500 times bigger than the standard searchable Web. To find “Deep Web” search engines just ask for it. If you don’t already know the name of a Deep Web site, you can “ask” for it by typing in “Deep Web” plus the topic in your search box.
- Use a Web credibility formula to evaluate information and pre-screen Web sites for credibility. A good program is the CARS check list: Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness and Support.
- Avoid unintentional plagiarism. Everything on the Internet is protected by copyright. Always cite anything taken from a website and use the URL with a date to note the quotation or information.
The difference in these “virtual books” of info ranges from marginal to quite significant in what is available on any topic.
Search engines, such as Google, rate the information based on mathematical algorithms. Basically, it is a popularity contest. The Web sites that get the most hits get the highest rating. In addition, the companies that pay the most money also get great placement. Below is a short list of search engines:
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- Alta Vista
Directories are compiled by real people. Directory panels evaluate a website and then categorize it based on content only.
- AboutUs.org – a wiki-based Web directory.
- Ansearch – Web search and directories focusing on the United States, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
- Best of the Web Directory – Lists content-rich, well-designed Websites categorized both by topic and by region. This is a paid for service.
- JoeAnt – A community of editors from the now-defunct Go.com volunteer-edited directory.
- Open Directory Project (a.k.a. ODP or dmoz) – The largest directory of the Web. Its open content is mirrored at many sites, including the Google Directory until July 20, 2011.
- Starting Point Directory – A human-edited general directory organizing sites by category.
- World Wide Web Virtual Library (VLI) The oldest directory of the Web.
- Yahoo! Directory – The first service that Yahoo! offered.
Metasearch engines are search engine sites that may include from 10 to 90 search engines on one site.
Try an experiment. Pick a simple topic, such as “publishing” and look it up in several of these various “books.” You will be surprised at the wider amount of information you retrieve from each.
Geri Spieler teaches Internet research classes in person and online at www.gerispieler.com. She is the author of Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford.
Editor’s Note: Make a point to also search each of these sites for your own author website and if it’s not listed, follow that site’s instructions to add it to the directory!