Online research is a crucial skill, whether you're working on a research paper, writing a blog post, or just trying to learn something new about your houseplants. But it's not always easy when tackling a complicated or niche topic.
Organize your information early
Organizing your information can save you time, and it can save you from forgetting or misremembering everything you've learned from your research. You should maintain a link to every website you visit from the beginning to the end of your research. It's best to write down a little bit of information about each link so you remember why you saved it and what information you can glean from it. You should also save any PDFs or images related to your research as you can use them as valuable primary sources.
If you need to organize a lot of data across multiple devices, consider using a note-taking app such as NotesEvernote,A note, orgoogle notes. They're all great for keeping track of webpages, PDFs, photos, and anything else you need for your big project.
If you're just trying to write a quick essay or learning about DIY woodworking, you probably don't need a dedicated note-taking app unless you're already using one. You may find it easier to cut and paste webpages into a Word or Google Doc file and save any PDFs or images to your local or cloud storage drive. Just make sure youKeep your files organizedand make notes for all your sources.
You'll probably end up using only a handful of the links you save. But when you publish a blog post or write an essay, you need to be able to verify and cite all of your sources. Otherwise, you could end up doing a lot of extra work for yourself later.
Start broadly and gather lots of information
When researching, it's tempting to dive straight into the first exciting thing you find. But you should try to start as broadly as possible. Otherwise, you could miss some fascinating information and end up with a poor understanding of your topic.
That's why you should try to find lots of information on your topic, more than you think you'll need. A good way to start broadly is to search Google for general terms related to your topic. When researching the difference between sunflowers and tulips, you should do a little research on each flower before delving deeper.
Naturally,Wikipediais also a fantastic place to start your research. You can use Wikipedia to find lots of general information about your topic, and you can use it to find related topics or primary sources that can be useful as you deepen your research.
Decide what is important and narrow things down
Once you've collected a wide range of data, you need to review everything and decide what to focus on. Don't just go for the first thing that sounds interesting to you. Try to find new relationships between the different pieces of information you have gathered.
Let's say you're researching for an author like Mark Twain. You've discovered through your extensive research that he was in the Civil War and that some of his stories are set in the pre-war South. On their own, these two pieces of information are boring and difficult to heed. But when you put them together, it's clear that there can be an enticing relationship worth in-depth research.
It's okay to research a relationship that seems obvious or familiar, especially if you're blogging, doing personal research, or writing a rudimentary history paper. However, if you want to find something unique, you need to think about how to narrow your research.
Optimize your Google search
Okay, you're ready to investigate further. What now? If you're looking for something unique, you may have trouble finding good search results on Google.
That's why you need to use someGoogle search operatorsto get the most out of your Google searches. There are many search operators you can use, and they're all pretty basic. But there are some that are particularly useful for online research.
If you need to search Google for exact phrases or names, you can enclose them in quotation marks. For example, if you search Google for "mole people," you will only find pages that contain the word "people" followed by the word "people."
The idea of starting your search broadly and then narrowing it down applies to searching the web as well.
For example, if your search for "people in the mole" returns too many results related to New York, you can exclude those results with a minus sign. It would look like this:
"People of Moles" - "New York"
Note that we also used quotes around "New York" in this search because we want the entire phrase to be excluded.
If you get to a point in your research where you can't find any new websites to visit, you might want to try rearranging your Google searches. Try using variations of the same search terms and change what search operators you use. Sometimes the slightest change in your search will bring completely different results.
Go further than Google
Sometimes the expertise of Google is not enough for you. If you're working on a full academic paper or writing an in-depth blog post, you might need to look through some journals, academic papers, or old books. You know, "primary sources".
Some websites, such asProjekt MuseAndJSTOR, are an excellent resource for journals, academic papers, and other primary sources. You can usually access it through your university or public library. There are also some free alternatives to these websites such asGoogle ScholarAndSSRN.
But if you delve deeply into dairy product ads, you must find some old catalogs, magazines, magazines, and posters.google booksis an excellent resource for this type of material.
You can also useWikipediato find some primary sources. At the bottom of each Wikipedia article is a “References” table. This table shows you the sources for all information in the article. If you come across an interesting piece of information while reading a Wikipedia article, then there is usually a small number that points to the reference table.
It's good to look at all of these resources as they usually return different results for the same search. They also usually have built-in advanced search capabilities that are useful for unique or niche topics.
Check your research again
Once you have completed your research, you need to ensure that all of your information is correct. You can save yourself a lot of heartache by checking all your research before you start writing.
Re-read all of your sources because chances are you misinterpreted what they are saying. Of course, you're not the only person who can misread a source, so it's good to double-check any citations you find on a site.
You should also consider how you used Google to research your topic. If you have included a bias in your search terms, there is a chance that the information collected from you will reflect that bias. Try searching Google with a variety of search terms andGoogle search operators.
There are also fact checking websites that you can use to make sure your information is correct. websites likeFaktencheck.orgorsnoutare pretty awesome; Just don't use them as your only fact-checking resource.
What if you find conflicting information?
Sometimes you spend a lot of time checking all your research and you will find that things don't seem right. In this situation, it's tempting to stand behind some information that may not be entirely true. After all, it's much easier to dwell on inaccurate information than to repeat the entire research process.
However, you should never write or post any information unless you are sure that it is correct. If you come across conflicting information while researching a topic, go back to the drawing board or try to flip the conflicting information in your favor.
For example, when researching the Titanic, if you find a lot of conflicting eyewitness accounts, you can quickly turn those conflicting accounts into exciting information. You could even go back and do an in-depth research into who made these eyewitness accounts and how they shaped public opinion about the sinking of the Titanic. Hey, that could be a book.
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