How to conduct Internet Research: Beyond Google: The Art of Time-Effective Information Gathering

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Conducting Internet research is a challenge. Now more than ever it is critical to be able to assess the validity of a Web site or posts on social media.

A healthy dose of skepticism is a very good thing.

It’s time-consuming, often confusing and whoever 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.

Google searches can be conflicting, redundant and often incomplete. Common complaints about online research include:

• Validating the information for reliability

• The relevance of the results

• Multiple points of view and the inability to source the information

• Time intensive

There is help.

Several research techniques that will smooth out the bumpy road to online 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 my research secrets to streamline your process and give you the skills and tools you need to conduct fast effective investigations.

Super Sleuthing Research Tips

Understand the difference 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 from the data you find.

Know how to remove ambiguity from your search. Many words have different meanings (the word “capital,” for example, can mean the seat of government, money, letter or crime).

Use standard “search strings” to narrow your search and improve results.

For example:

1.) The hyphen search string: Omits any word placed after the actual hyphen. For example, Internet -marketing

2.) The wildcard search: The wildcard search * Insert the * symbol instead of a word.

3.) The date range search: 2008 january-2008 july

4.) The exact search: Put quotes “” around words. This cuts out irrelevant results

5.) Blog keyword search: writing inurl:blog. You can also use the search term

inurl: to restrict the search to page URLs inurl:writing which also includes blogs.

6.) The file type search: Find PDF’s, PPTs, spreadsheets (xls) business filetype:pdf

7.) The safe search: Excludes all adult content from the results: safesearch:online

8.) The link search: link:

9.) The site search: If you want to find information on only the one website you are best off to use the following search term to find the most accurate results:

10.) Find stuff using either or results: marketing OR writing

11.) The definition search: define:writing

12.) Boolean search: And, Or, Not, +: Example- Portland AND Oregon, Oregon NOT travel.

Avoid unintentional plagiarism. Everything on the Internet is protected by copyright. Always cite anything taken from a Web site and use the URL with a date to note the quotation or information. There are many excellent plagiarism checkers you can use.

The Internet is a wonderful place, but in order to stay safe, carefully analyze the information to find. Compare the results using several different search engines. Go to Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo or a meta search engine such as Turbo 10. By comparing the results you’ll have a better sense that what you are finding is accurate.

Written by

Master researcher, journalist and non-fiction author. My new book, San Francisco Values will be out in June 2020. Connect with me at

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