Effective online research

Effective online research

Online research, i.e. searching for information online, is troublesome for many people. Every day brings in new content, and that’s why you have to be able to select and separate valuable sources from digital junk. How to do it?

  • Skivak
  • 25.01.2019
  • 3 minutes

There are people for whom it is natural to search for things hidden in the depths of the Internet and who, when asked, don’t know how to explain their abilities. There are also people who, despite learning tricks and facing many failures, just do not understand this media. Regardless of whichever category you fall into, you may find the following guide to effective research useful.

You have to answer one important question

What are you looking for? It seems quite trivial, but it’s worth considering in advance what specific materials you are looking for on the Internet – text, graphics, infographics, encyclopaedic entries or simply broadly understood information that will help you learn more about the topic.

The right tools and the right way

Google has many secrets and sub-pages that make life easier. However, equally important in the research process is the way of entering a search query. Very often it is a good idea to write your questions in “”, as the search engines looks specifically for these phrases. A minus sign in front of the word will exclude it from the search terms. When you can’t find the answer you are looking for, it’s worth stating a question in English. The English website “resources” are bigger, and, in my humble opinion, forums and comments are characterized by a more civilized discussion (of course, I’m not talking about 4chan or 9gag) / Google is not the only search engine that can help you, so it’s a good idea to use the services of the competition sporadically:

  • Ask – search engine that from its very beginning was designed to answer the most frequently asked questions of users. Perfect if you create a “How to” topic.
  • Bing – Google’s largest competitor, created by Microsoft. Under the terms of agreement, it also displays search results from Yahoo! – so it’s two search engines in one.
  • DuckDuckGo – an interesting Google clone that prides itself on not spying on its users. This is a very useful search engine, as it allows you to get results that are “clean” i.e. not cookies attached or online behaviour remembered.
  • Entireweb – search engine based on an original algorithm built from scratch. It often gives different results than the most popular search engines.
  • Yandex – although only a handful of people will find use for it, it is the largest search engine on the Russian-language market (which has its own rules).

Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves

Sometimes you just have to look for information on specialist forums and blogs “manually”. After finding the source you are interested in, search through it by using both the built-in search bar and thematic filtering – the results may vary. Only after that start a topic on the forum.

Use alternative research sources

Nowadays, it is a good idea to look for information on YouTube, other video sites, as well as in social media. Vloggers are eager to use these channels, and often (although it of course depends on the profile of the content sought) they will be the best source of information.

Look for simple solutions

That is, apply Occam’s razor rule – the simplest solutions are the best. Instead of formulating complicated questions, look for a keyword, or, visit Wikipedia first, where you’ll find many references (often to scientific works) under articles, which although helpful, are not that easy to be find.