Effective Internet Research Tips*
The Search is On
It’s easy (and fun) to hop on the computer and “google away” at a moments notice. But, if you’re a dedicated entrepreneur, then you probably needed search results yesterday. Quick internet searches can be really great and helpful. They can also be inaccurate and misleading. Be sure to handle this double-edged sword with some caution and forethought.
Clarify Your Thinking
Asking yourself some additional questions can save time and extra effort with online research. Narrow down your research topic with these considerations: What is the main question you’re seeking an answer to? Are there more than one or two? Write them down, so as to not get side tracked on your mission. Who are you doing the research for? Who is your audience? These might seem like simple answers, but digging a little deeper for the exact intention or outcome of the research might be surprising. (For instance, searching academic databases might be more appropriate than blogs or news articles.) Make a list of keywords and steer away from generalities. If you’re having trouble expressing just what your looking for, a creative mind-map is a great way to get accuracy.
Take the time to commit a few of Google’s syntax language to memory. With a little practice, you’ll be flying through web pages and online documents like an intern on a coffee run! Check out a few of Google’s search operators below.
- *(Asterisk) – Not sure how to finish that word or quote? Use an asterisk at the end of a word or phrase to find the correct answer. Ex: Saved by the*
- ”(Quotation marks)” – Find exact words or phrases. If you’re looking for a specific book or even a specific concept, try this. Ex: “The Power of Intention.”
- -(Hyphen) – If you want to exclude those pesky words or sites that keep cropping up in your search, use a hyphen before the thing you’d like to omit. EX: Season -Shows. Be really specific as to the omitted words/phrases, because search engines can’t differentiate between concepts.
- ..(Two Periods) – Search a range of numbers or dates using two periods between. EX: Stockmarket news 2007..2013.
- (Allintext:) – To find words in the body of a document, try the allintext: EX: allintext: Weekend conference ideas.
A Last Note
Remember, anyone can publish on the internet. Take the time to cruise around the perimeter of a web page for some validity. Check around for an “about tab,” and publication date (are they current?) How’s the spelling and grammar? Does the site seem organized? Is there an author? What organizations support them? Who do they support? Read all you can about who’s giving you the information before you commit valuable time in reading their data. Do an outside search on the author and see what comes up. And lastly, consider emotional attachment to the topic you’ve chosen. Try to be aware of any personal biases that could potentially cloud judgment.