Sometimes looking for something on the internet is like looking for a needle in a haystack. One of the best things one can do is to be as specific as possible and use tools to refine your search results to get to that needle faster. Here are some quick tips to help you.
Think about what you are researching and the different ways ideas and/or terms may be expressed. It can help to make a list of keywords you want to search and keep expanding on it as your search evolves. e.g. Indigenous, Indigenous Australian Peoples, First Nations, Aboriginal Australian, Aboriginal People, Mobs, Indigenous Nations, Nyoongah, and Koori. It helps to be as specific as possible.
3 Search Tools
Here are 3 useful keyboard tools that can completely change the direction of one’s search for the better.
Use the * symbol as a placeholder for another letter or word. It helps your search include various word endings and spellings. e.g. psychol* will find psychology, psychological, psychologist.
Enter your keywords in quotation marks. Quotations allow you to refine your search and find the exact word or set of words keywords you are looking for. e.g. “Indigenous Australians and activis*”
Filter out unwanted words and refine your results by using the minus sign or a dash (-). e.g. If looking for resources on organising you may get many resources on organising as being organised in a tidying up sense. You can reduce these results by adding words you do not want in your search such as -home, -cleaning, -tidying.
Search engines have useful filters under their search box which help to refine one’s search results quickly. Our favourite 3 filters are: Time, Images and the News.
Using the time filter is one of the fastest ways one can refine results as most searchers know what time period they are looking for.
The image filter is a different way of finding the needle. For example, this can be useful if you are looking for a book/report cover you once came across and would like to find again. You may keep seeing the same face pop up about a certain issue and this can help one identify an expert in a particular area quickly.
The news filter can be beneficial in finding summaries and leads to more in-depth research.
Is this the right webpage?
To be able to quickly assess if a website you have clicked on is useful use Ctrl+F or Cmd+F to find the keyword on the webpage. You will be able to see the context of the keyword more quickly and not waste time scrolling through a webpage that may not be useful.
Know when to stop and change track
Do you need to try a different keyword? Could you use the News and Time filters? Have you tried phrase searching?
Check the Sources
- Is it up to date?
- Is it accurate?
- Does it come from a trusted source?
- Is the author identified?
- Are they qualified?
- Are sources cited?
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