At least 50% of online shoppers spent 75% of their time looking for the perfect product before making a purchase. If that’s the amount of time people waste on trivial activities (like buying shoes or clothes online), can you imagine the hours they’d be spending on doing research for their college assignment?
Can’t imagine? We bet you can’t. Well, here are some more statistics to amaze you that will also give you an idea of the time people spend online just researching for things.
According to a recent study, the global online population roughly stands at around 3.26 billion people. Around 21% of them spend all of their online time on performing internet researches. And to make your jaws drop lower than they are right now, a whopping 2.9 billion searches are made on Google every day, and you cannot deny that students like you (who are frantically looking up for matter on their paper) make up quite a big chunk of it.
So if you're making so many internet searches every day and yet not getting the desired result, surely you're going wrong somewhere. Maybe you lack the skills to research on the internet properly. Maybe you haven't been taught how to get the best out of online search engines.
Do you want to know how to research better online so that you can save your valuable time and finish your assignment sooner? Well, our experts are here to show you how.
By making use of these 15 tips, you’ll be zooming your way through your research like a pro.
1. Choose a Research Topic that you’re Really Interested In
Okay, we know that this is not always in your hand since you may not get the liberty every time to choose your research paper topic, but whenever you do, ensure you pick one that is interesting to you. This’ll make researching for it much easier as you'll already be familiar with most of the terms related to the topic. Even if you're not, you'd still know exactly what you're looking for, and the keywords you put into the search engine will yield better results than when you're not interested and don't know where to begin.
2. If you don’t know where to Start, get /inspiration from your Surroundings
Just like choosing a topic is difficult, researching for your chosen topic can be as difficult sometimes. You may feel completely uninspired and clueless about where to begin. Don’t worry. There are plenty of resources you can get inspiration from for your research. Try attending seminars, lectures or conferences that are loosely based on your topic. You can also read books that have a connection to your topic (even newspapers for that matter). Or you can rely on your friend – the good old social media and become a part of forums and groups (or create one) that relate to your topic and get bright ideas.
3. Refine your Research further with Google Scholar
Chances are an ordinary Google search will not give you the results you’re looking for on that essay on Shakespearean tragedies. So what do you do? Well, you Google Scholar it to get all the relevant results. Google Scholar is the most effective researching tool for students as the results it puts forward have been accumulated from scholarly resources, thereby making your task of finding relevant matter much easier than before.
4. But don’t make that your only search engine
Our experts suggest that you use as many search engines for one single query. Why? You will only find similar results, you can argue. But there’s a catch. You see, each search engine employs a different mechanism and can prompt results that are not the same as on the other one. This way you’ll get access to many more resources in a shorter period of time with the same keyword combination. You can start out with the most universal search engine i.e. Google and then move on to the others such as Yahoo, Bing and the like. If you’re not a fan of using multiple search engines and find it very confusing to navigate through several tabs, you can make use of Zuula. This is a meta search engine and what it does is it explores multiple search engines together to bring you the best results
5. Use Various Combinations of the Keywords you Put In
Keywords are the inputs you enter into the search box of any website. Now it may happen, that the keywords you’re entering are not prompting the results you want because they are not the right combination. The key is to find the correct combination. Now, this may take a few hits and misses at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll turn into a faster and smarter researcher. Let’s teach you by example. Say you have a paper on the William Blake’s famous painting ‘The Great Red Dragon’ and you enter the keyword ‘red dragon.’ Now you get results of the movie ‘Red Dragon’ as well as the novel of the same name written by Thomas Harris in which the infamous fictional character of Hannibal was introduced. But the painting is nowhere to be seen. To get results for the painting, your keyword combination should be ‘red dragon Blake.’
6. Create a Specific Research slot in your Schedule
You wouldn’t believe the effect staying organized has on your online research skills. It not only saves you from procrastination but makes you a faster researcher as you are a forced to dedicate only a small portion of your time to research each day. Scheduling you research also helps you to divert all your attention to that single task, thereby increasing your focus and concentration. This helps you to think of better keywords, consequently resulting in better hits.
7. Divide your Research up into Sections
This is probably the smartest thing you can do when you’re researching. By segregating your research into different sections, you save a lot of time and prevent your mind from getting confused due to the overload of information. You can divide your research up on the basis of the portion of your essay that you’re addressing at the moment (the introduction, body, conclusion) or by the opinions of various scholars you’d be referring to and so and so forth.
8. Make use of Operators to Customize your Research
Just a few points above, we told you about the combination of the right keywords. Now we’re going to tell you about how to refine your research further with the help of operators (or the symbols on your keyboard). Use them to limit the results you get once you enter your keywords into the search box.
- Plus sign (+): Stop words (a, the, and, etc.) are filtered by Google when you're researching. If you want results with such words to show up, add the ‘+' symbol to your keyword. For example "apple +and oranges” will show results that have ‘and’ in them.
- Minus sign (-): Use this sign if you want to narrow your search. For example, if you want to research about the fruit apple and don’t want the company being prompted, type in ‘apple –inc.’
- Star symbol: If you want results that display the related terms to your primary keyword, use what Google calls the ‘fill in the blank operator.’ So if you type in ‘apple *,' you'll also get results for apple juice, etc.
- Tilde or wave sign ( ̴): If you add this symbol before your word, you’ll get results that have the synonym for the word you entered. Type in ‘~joy’ to see for yourself.
- Straight line (|): Inserting this symbol along with your query in the search engine displays results which have both the terms you used in your keyword. For example type ‘apple | oranges’ to get hits for pages that contain both these words.
9. If you don’t see Results on the First page, Move on to the Next
Chances are the most useful links will not be found on the first page of your search engine, least likely to be found on the top of the first page. This is because the content of only those sites is prompted on top that have marketed their content really well and it has no connection with quality whatsoever. So the best thing here to do is to dig deeper and go beyond the first few pages. This can help you get that link you’re looking for.
10. Question the Credibility of your Chosen Sites
You spend a considerable time gathering all the relevant online resources for your paper. Now you don't want them to go to waste, do you? They will be of no use if the links you’ve selected are not reliable. The best way to know if the website is credible is to check its web address (URL). If at the end of the URL, you find a .org, .gov, .com, or .edu, you can safely trust the information on that site. Also, if the URL consists of the name of recognized university or museum, you can be sure of its validity.
11. Use other Online Resources, not just Search Engines
Have you looked through your university’s database yet? That’s the gold mine of information. Don’t just ignore them because they present themselves as inconvenient options. You’ll find some of the best research books archived in your university’s database. Alternatively, you can ask your professor for a list of the best websites where you can extract information from. You can enter your desired input into the search boxes of these sites and get more relevant results. Bookmark the sites you find useful for future use.
12. Go back in Time and use your Browser History
You have no idea how resourceful the history section of your browser can be when you’re performing an online research. Sometimes, when you're in a rush, you overlook information that was truly important and dismiss it as irrelevant. And you realize way later that you actually need it. At times like these, your browser history can be a savior. So don't think about deleting it anytime soon.
13. Make Notes of Everything you Find
There's no point of researching so hard if you haven't saved all the information you've found. This is where a notebook can really help you. You can jot down the names of the articles as well as their authors, famous quotes and their sources, ebook references and their page numbers, etc. in your notebook so that you never forget. This way you'll also have all the information handy whenever you need it. You’ll also save yourself from plagiarism since all the references would’ve been jotted down accurately.
14. Or use Digital Bookmarks and Reference Managers
It’s possible that you don’t really like pen and paper and find using them cumbersome. If that’s your issue, say hello to digital bookmarking websites and online reference organizers. Sites such as Pinterest or Bundlr can help you save all those useful links on one single platform. On the other hand, reference managers such as Zotero or Endnote can make the task of keeping all your citations in one place when you need them much easier.
15. Don’t get Frustrated - Just Keep Calm and Research
Often you may end up feeling like the entire activity of researching was completely futile and you found nothing relevant at all. Don’t give up and get frustrated when that happens. Just take a break and refresh your mind. When you research with a fresh mind and body, you find exactly what you’re looking for as your mind can work at its full capacity. So play indoor or outdoor games or even watch TV if that’s what helps you. Besides, you should exercise daily and eat and sleep well. This’ll help keep your mind sharp and improve your researching ability.
So as you can see, researching can be a very easy and hassle-free task if you know the right way to do it. Just remember to keep your data current so that you don’t lose out on valuable grades. You can check on the website when the page was last updated to know if the matter presented is current or not. Other than that, just follow these tips, and we hope you'll have a fun time researching.
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