The Internet has become the number one source of information in the world. Internet research is used by everyone. You can research any topic on the Internet and find answers to any question. It is a very different world today with the computer than the world of say 20 years ago, when we had to go to the library for research and sometimes spend hours there. Sometimes we were not able to access some information and the librarian would help us by searching different topics for us on their computers. The librarians actually had access to computers back then, before we had computers for personal use.
There are a variety of effective Internet research techniques which will aid you in your use of the Internet. Not only is a world of information available online, you can access the same information the librarian used to obtain for you many years ago. You can read websites, log into library sites around the world, obtain research articles and reports, and generally obtain a wealth of information on every topic under the sun.
Everyone uses Internet research at some point in their lives. Students do research to write papers, home buyers research the house market, dog owners want to know about things for their dogs, etc.
The Internet is a research library, and if you know how to use it efficiently you can identify information resources and then search the Web for the targeted information. But you have to have a plan, or else you will spend hours searching.
The Internet is huge. You might type in a keyword and get thousands or millions of results. Mot people don’t get past the third page of their results. And you can waste a lot of time in front of your computer if you do not refine your targeted results. There are two basic ways to search the Internet for relevant material:
o Search by subject
o Search by keyword(s)
Search by Subject
When you search by subject, you are actually searching a database of Web pages indexed under a particular topic. For example, the Librarians’ Internet Index has a list of subjects such as Arts & Humanities or Media. You may choose Arts & Humanities, which includes history, literature, music, and other related topics. When you select the subject heading, a variety of related topics are listed such as “aesthetics,” “dance,” or “philosophy.” You can then choose the topic that looks most likely to be within your target subject and it will provide you with a list of relevant websites where you can begin to do your research. In these indexed sites you can then narrow your topic further by inserting keywords of interest in their main page search boxes.
Search by Keyword
Keywords are used by the search engines to crawl the Web and find relevant websites. This process used by search engines has become very sophisticated, so it is helpful to understand how the search engines work and how keywords influence our search results.
This is where developing a search strategy can be very helpful. The basic steps to developing a keyword search are the following.
1. Decide on your search topic
2. Identify the words or phrases that are essential to the information you are seeking
3. Identify related terms, including synonyms
4. Enter the keywords from the phrase or the synonyms into the search box on the search engine screen
5. Review the listing results, and if not satisfactory, then enter a different synonym or related phrase and try again.
Other uses of Internet research include search for statistical records of all kinds. The strategies discussed above will produce the results for statistics in the different targeted fields. Trade associations, universities and colleges, and medical research websites make great places to do statistical data research. Many of them require you to join as a registered member in order to access their databases.