MUST BE 18 OR OLDER - MUST READ TERMS OF SERVICE AND PRIVACY POLICY

Did you know we built a library of self-help documents for inmates and their loved ones over the decades? Check it out: WriteAPrisoner.com Self-help Series.

Research tips

1 post / 0 new
Honeybee-
Honeybee-'s picture
Research tips

RESEARCHING TIPS
When you need specific answers to questions you may have you first need to learn how to ask the "right" question at the beginning stage of research process. Successful research in this area of expertise is not only going to require asking the right questions but also asking the right "type" of questions.
The answers to the specific questions you are seeking have already been answered somewhere. By doing diligent research you'll be able to locate the answers in very little time.
The answers your looking for are going to be stored in the recesses of the "deep web." Using Google for simple and routine questions is fine, but for hard-to-find data, Google searching isn't gonna cut it. Google is a great tool to use to start research, but it's a terrible place to end it.
incywincy.com may be useful as it's self-described as "Invisible Web Search Engine." This site provides a unique window into the hidden world of online databases. They focus their search power on locating websites that are equipped with queryable databases. The "Forms" search provides you with an easy way to locate websites that contain one or more search forms, which usually indicates that a database cannot be far away.
infomine.com is an excellent resource for scholarly materials.
Google cannot search the deep web, it's "Advanced Search" can be an important tool for finding the databases that will lead you there.
The tools of Google's "Advanced Search" deliver the holy grail of search results--namely, a small number of highly relevant hits. "Advanced Search" is how you force Google to be more precise.
The link to the "Advanced Search" template lives underneath the gear tool that you will find after you have run an initial search. After using this tool and seeing how much better your results become, you can wean yourself from "Advanced Search" template and instead get the same great results by typing out all the shortcuts directly into the standard search box on Google's home page.
The search template is a marvel of concision. The top four text boxes are the syntax tools that help you ask a better question. Below the syntax tools are the filters that pare down results list drastically. The last two, the "Page-Specific Tools," are two services that depend directly on Google's celebrated PageRank system. When you find a page or site that speaks directly to your question and then want to find more pages just like that one, these services will locate additional pages or sites similar to the pertinent one you've found.
To get around Goggle's noble attempt to be all-inclusive and instead make it more precise, put your keyword in quotation marks. This tells Google to dispense with the synonyms and deliver pages containing just your actual word or words, starting with pages in which your terms is in the title of the page, the URL of the page, or, ideally, in both places. For experienced searchers, this ability to select exact words or phrases is a godsend. Quotes around a search phrase tell Google to search for the phrase as a single concept and not as multiple isolated words--they tell Google to look for only those exact terms. Example: "brown pride". The quotation marks are a powerful tool so use them judiciously.
The power to say no is a very useful one. It really comes in handy in the googlesphere, where adding a simple minus sign (type a hyphen) to a search term is the way to exclude that term from the query. It's critical to be able to exlain which sense of the word you don't want Google to search. That little minus sign slays a horde of a billion or more fast hits. Informally, we can call it uncluttering results by getting rid of fast hits. When your search term has more than one meaning, use the minus sign to knock out meanings you don't want from the results list. Example: "Alice" -Cooper. In Googlespeak, a space between search terms is always interpreted as the word "and." The following Google search: "dalmatians" -Disney -101 tells Google, "Find me the exact word Dalmatians in the title or the URL of a web page AND exclude the word Disney AND exclude the number 101."
In addition to searching for text that appears on a web page, some very handy search controls can look for your search term in a specific place in a web page: its title, its URL, or the anchor tag (which most people call a "link"). The minus sign (hyphen), quotation marks, asterisk, and the word OR plus a handful of other syntax tools will help narrow your search.

WEB FILTERS
Part two in slimming down the hit list is the use of search filters that either automatically exclude certain types of information or focus the search on specific web pages. For example, you can restrict by date using the "Advanced Search" template before you hit the "Search" button. When you search from the Google home page, however, you'll need to filter by date after the results have appeared.
Of all the tools Google provides to help you search the web, none is as poweful or as useful as the site/domain search. Without recourse to the domain filter, you could spend all afternoon trying to pluck out the government materials from all the other links. Instead, you can restrict your search to government sites by searching like this:
"over incarceration" site:.gov

  RESEARCHING TIPS (continued)
As convenient as it is to limit Google to a specific high-level domain, my favorite filter of all is the site restrictor. This essentially uses Google to search a specific site. This is one of the handiest tools to have at your disposal. Having a way to use Google to reach inside a website and pull back exactly what you need is ideal. Let's say you need to find in-state tuition for Michigan State University. Do it this way:
"tuition" "in-state" site:michiganstate.edu
Nothing will make your online search better faster than using domain and site restrictions. Along with quotation marks and the hyphen, use the site: feature whenever you can.
When looking for documents published or used on specific dates, you can use Google's time tools to seek out web pages containing time-sensitive information. You can restrict the date before you search by using the "Date" drop-down menu in Google's "Advanced Search" template to select your range. But if you are searching from the main page, run your search and then select from the date restrictors. The date filter is a godsend for the researcher who needs to look for time-sensative information.
If you hit on a web page that is perfect for your needs Google has two features in "Advanced Search" template--"Find Pages Similar to the Page" and "Find Pages That Link to the Page"--that find sites with similar content. Once you've found a useful web page, find sites with similar content by popping the URL of that page into one of these search boxes.
Google Scholar can be a useful site for retrieving cited material. The site should contain technical reports, and other scholarly literature from all broad areas of research. Even though Google Scholar should contain decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and state appellate courts, try "Justia" or one of the other free legal sites before you search Google Scholar.
Google Groups should also provide a meeting place for people with parochial interest. You should be able to find very precisely defined bulletin board discussion groups where you can post and respond to questions that limited amount of people in the world might care about.
Even with the Internet, a library and its resources still play a critical role in most research projects. A library card gives you entree into a club that is at once the most and least exclusive in the world. The library's catalog is your guide to everything. The modern library catalog offers more than a road map to what a particular library holds. It can also provide links to useful websites. It is fast and accurate, and, thanks to the modern miracle of hyperlinking, cross-referencing interesting information doesn't take all day. All catalogs index the collection by: author, title, subject. E-catalogs open the door to far more elaborate and far more precise searching. The beauty of the catalog is that you can look over the entire library landscape in one place, quickly mastering a vast domain with some very simple seaches. Most librarians make available a wide range of services designed to boost your research.
Many libraries will provide their cardholders with access to services that allow you to search articles for free. You should check your library's website or ask the staff about which databases are available. The mother of all databases is Dialog. Dialog is a powerful search tool and access is usually restricted to the library staff, but they can search on behalf of patrons.
Most libraries offer free access to computers and the Internet. You can always count on finding a computer in a public library when you need one.
From time to time, even the best researcher gets stumped and needs some assistance. That's when you call in the professionals. Reference librarians are every researcher's secret weapon. They are skilled in the craft of finding information and bring a professional's experience and judgment to the task. To simplify the process for their patrons, they often write guides to specific types of information, describing where and how to find materials on a selected subject. These guides are known as pathfinders. Ask for them by name (as in, "Do you have a pathfinder on scientific findings for COVID-19 virus?").
A perfect example of the new era in information access is the Public Library of Science (PLoS). They aim to make "the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource" (www.plos.org).
Lastly, an association is a repository of knowledge for a specific subject and can be counted on to deliver a credible point of view. Find the right association, and in one place you'll have experts to quote, guides to additonal information, and an attributable source. Keep your eye on the association's website for pages with titles such as "Resources," "Links," and "Library." These gateways are your free ticket to bonus information in addition to what an association itself provides. Once you locate a site you like, copy and paste the URL into the search box named for finding pages that link to a page on Google's "Advanced Search" template.
To locate a particular association you are interested in, run a Google search using the following format:
association "your subject"
If you don't have success locating an assoication, try other common search synonyms such as "society," "organization," "club." Another good Google technique is to search for your subject and then restrict the search to the .org domain to locate noncommercial sites. You should start with the following search if you were interested in American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
"ACLU" site:.org
Always keep in mind that associations are extraordinarily generous with their information.
Hope this information is helpful to you.
Written by: Refugio "Cuco" Palacio (179695)