Take Searches Up a Notch

Traditional search methods don’t always work effectively. When you’re disappointed with the results you’re getting, Barbara G. Friedman, author of Web Search Savvy: Strategies and Shortcuts for Online Research (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005), 60, suggests trying some of the alternative approaches in her checklist of Tips for Smart Searchers. Read more

Get Real

“Working with primary sources is like detective work – leads must be followed, motives evaluated and stories matched for consistency,” says Leslie F. Stebbins. In the book Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age: How to Locate and Evaluate Information Sources (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006), 79, Stebbins offers some strategies you can use to analyze primary sources. Read more

Get Fast, Accurate Results with Exact Phrases

“Searching for phrases” notes Living Internet “is one of the fastest ways to narrow down results” Their article Search for Phrases, explains how to use this technique.

You can specify a phrase on most search engines by placing it in double quotes. Because they are a form of unique identifier, phrases are very useful at filtering search results to just pages that contain that exact, specific string of characters. Read more

Line It Up

“A working outline,” says the University of Victoria Department of English, can provide you “with a rough map of where the essay will go, making a diagram of your thoughts to sharpen and define your purpose.” The UVic Writer’s Guide explains how to create one in “The Structure of the Essay Outline:”

The beginning is the introduction containing your thesis statement; the end is the conclusion; and the middle or body of the essay contains the argument, supported by evidence or example and designed to prove your thesis. Read more

Clutter-free Writing

David R. Williams advocates applying the K.I.S.S. principle (“Keep it simple, Stupid.”) to writing. In his book Sin Boldly! Dr. Dave’s Guide to Writing the College Paper (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2000), 9, he explains, ” ‘Simple’ does not have to mean simpleminded. Keeping it simple means avoiding the complexity of too many competing, confusing factors. This applies to choosing a paper topic as well as writing a sentence or running a business.” Read more

Search Engines You Should (But Probably Don’t) Know

“Ask anyone which search engine they use to find information on the Internet and they will almost certainly reply: ‘Google,’” says Charles S. Knight, Search Engine Optimizer and editor of AllSearchEngines. “Look a little further, and market research shows that people actually use four main search engines for 99.99% of their searches: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask.com (in that order). But in my travels as a Search Engine Optimizer (SEO), I have discovered that in that .01% lies a vast multitude of the most innovative and creative search engines you have never seen. So many, in fact, that I have had to limit my list of the very best ones to a mere 100.” Read more

Tools that Build Strong Papers

David R. Williams calls sentences and paragraphs “the tools of the writing trade.” In his book Sin Boldly! Dr Dave’s Guide to Writing the College Paper (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books, 2000) 31, he says, “The sentence is the hammer you use to drive your points home. Each blow must hit a nail. Each sentence must communicate a thought clearly from your mind to that of your reader. Disorganized jumbles of words and phrases cannot do this. Only when the words are arranged in a logical order with a subject and a verb is a complete thought expressed.” Read more

Culture Club

Online Search Techniques

“The diversity of cultures represented on the Web is an amazing and wonderful thing,” notes Web expert Barbara G. Friedman, who adds, “But online searches are easily thwarted if the user fails to take into account the myriad spellings and meanings that accompany that diversity. Searching for one will not find sites that use the other spelling, or for that matter sites containing misspellings. In addition, the same word can have alternate meanings even within a single language.” Read more

Blast Through Writer’s Block

“Getting started,” say Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman, “may be the most difficult task when you sit down to write.” Luckily for us, their book Yes, You Can! 1,200 Inspiring Ideas for Work, Home, and Happiness (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1996), 101, includes nine ideas to kickstart the process.

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Top Search Tips

Internet Tutorials – Laura B. Cohen’s “basic guide to the Internet” – is a valuable resource for anyone who needs to find information online. Bookmarking her Best Bet Search Tips, for example, means that you’ll always have easy access to proven techniques for effective online research.

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