TIPS FOR SEARCHING THE INTERNET

Now-a-days, anyone can search anything in the Internet using the vast number of readily available search engines. However, your search may sometimes end up showing results quite different from your requirements. Use these few tips and tricks to search information easily and effectively:

»   Use multiple similar words to perform a general search on the topic. You may use synonyms or alternative search terms; for example, restaurant, cafe, bistro.

»   Many search engines do not differentiate between uppercase and lowercase letters, even if present within quotation marks. The following words would return the same results: english, English, ENGLISH, œenglish, œEnglish.

 

»   Enter base words for better and specific results. For example, use technology and not technologies, walk and not walked. However, if you are searching for web-pages on the act of walking, enter the whole term walking.

 

»   Use quotation marks to limits the search results to only those web-pages that contain the exact phrase you have specified.

 

»  Use specialty search-engines for searching information about a specific topic or region. Some examples of specialty search engines:

LawCrawler  Search engine for legal professionals.

AskJeeves  Your question and answer search engine.

MedHunt  Search engine and index of medical information.

 

» Use the plus (+) and minus (-) signs before words to force their inclusion (+) or exclusion (-) in the search; for example: +new +york +city or +new +york +state city.

 

»  Avoid using punctuations and common words, such as “a”, “my”, or “the”, unless you are searching for a specific title.

»  Use unique terms that are specific to the subject you are researching. For example, instead of searching for œdogs, search for a specific dog breed.

 

»  Use both the advanced and simple modes of search to retrieve relevant sites.

TYPES OF SOURCES

Regarding the previous discussion, following are listed some typology of sources.

(a) Scholarly sources

This type of sources includes:

  • Academic or research-based journals,
  • Research monographs,
  • College/University textbooks, and
  • Anthologies of essays on academic disciplines.

Most of the scholarly journals are published by universities or professional bodies, while most of the scholarly books are published by publishers specializing in intense and genuine work. These sources are written in language specific to their discipline, and are always cited by their own sources. Writers of such sources always aim to make their assumptions explicit and clear, to persuade the readers with logical and systematic reasoning rather than emotive appeals or generalizations. The audience for such documents is peers, and students being initiated into the conventions and language expectations of the discipline. As a result, the style and terminology of these sources becomes uneasy or obvious for outsiders. Scholarly sources are the most authoritative, as their writers usually have a professional commitment in keeping constant debates, along with acknowledging and building on the previously received knowledge.

(b) Specialist sources

This type of sources includes:

  • Science magazines,
  • Technology and social topics, and
  • Serious non-fictions, like popular science, etc.

Such type of sources/documents generally aims to inform a non-specialist public about the technical topics in an accessible way, thereby publicizing or popularizing the otherwise discouraging or extra complex concepts. The audience of this type of sources is intended to be an educated and informed reader, who has little expertise on the concerned topic, but has a eagerness to acquire new knowledge; consequently, with a longer attention span than a reader of lower-level documents. Writers of such sources attempt to entertain as well as inform, therefore they are likely to rely more on analogy, metaphor and dramatization than the writers of scholarly sources. However, they do cite sources, even though the technique of integrating these in the text is often different from that in scholarly documents, which use formal referencing styles. Serious non-fiction works often uses similar techniques of referencing as scholarly works. Contrastingly, Specialist magazine articles name their researchers and professional positions in the body of the articles, rather than mentioning them in endnotes or end-of-text references. Moreover, in magazines of this type, the role of visuals becomes important with attention paid to aesthetics of layout and design. Specialist sources are overall an excellent source of information on a rather superficial level. If more depth or analysis is needed, such documents can refer you to the original, more formal sources.

(c) Public sources

This type of sources includes:

  • Governmental documents,
  • Corporate/legal documents, like public statements issued by government agencies, and
  • Corporate information found on organizational websites and in public relations material.

Such types of sources are usually addressed to the general public, the language is clear and unambiguous, and concepts are made as simple as possible. This is especially employed in the governmental and business documents, since the establishment of the Plain English campaign emphasized reader-based aspects of communication, and thus propounded a direct and informal approach to public writing. Documents belonging to this category of sources tend to assume a low attention span, and therefore do not expand on a topic more than is necessary to get their point across. Many have a promotional edge, even when they are not selling a product, they support the issuing organization’s interests; for example, as happens with press releases. Public sources/documents are usually a good source of facts about a corporation or government policy, but they should always be read critically, and interpreted according to the requirements of a specific project. This category includes local newspapers and non-specialized, general interest magazines, as they too address the general public, aiming to appeal to the low common denominator of a community’s interests and sensibilities.

(d) Sensationalist sources

This type of sources bases its information on rumor, fabrication or exaggeration, rather than on any form of empirical or interpretative research. Therefore, these are the least credible type of sources. In fact, they should not be considered as sources of research at all, unless you use them as examples of the distortion of information in the popularization of knowledge. Many popular magazines and newspapers fall into this category, regarding their appeal to thrill and sensation as opposed to any form of truth or reflection. These sources thus appeal to the innocent and entertaining tendencies of their readership.

EVALUATING SOURCES

In reality, no foolproof method or technique exists to establish the credibility of a text. However, certain factors may be considered, when deciding whether an information source is likely to be accurate and reliable:

  • Is the writer real? Does he have the right qualifications needed to write that particular type of article?
  • What organization does the writer belong to? Is the organization reputed and trustworthy?
  • What is the year of publication? Is the article recently published or is too old-dated for your purpose?
  • What is the edition, in case of books or periodicals?
  • Has the information been peer-reviewed? What are the reviews of others, if any?
  • How prestigious or credible is the information source (for example, publications)?
  • Has the writer cited references for the information in the text? Are these references correct?
  • Has the writer referred from a range of information sources, or from a small number of sources? Are the information sources themselves reliable?
  • What organization funded the research?
  • Who are the intended audience? Is the material too elementary or too advanced?
  • Did the writer conduct primary research? If so, has the writer stated the kind of research conducted, methods, and the sample size? The results of primary research depend strictly on the methods used.

TYPES OF RESEARCH

After having chosen your topic to write on, you need to gather information about the topic so as to broaden the scope of your writing and to improve its quality. This process is known as research, which plays a key role in writing, whether it is professional, academic, fiction or non-fiction writing. Research in writing includes reading more around the topic, taking notes, assessing its relevance for your purpose, and finally, integrating it within your text. The role of research in writing is best explained by Mark Twain: “First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure.”

Moreover, research can be divided into primary and secondary research, depending on the sources used to gather information. Primary research includes direct observations, preparing questionnaires and interviewing, undertaking fieldworks, and conducting experiments to gather analytical and descriptive information. Whereas, secondary research includes printed and electronically transmitted reading materials to search for historical backgrounds, different points of view on an issue, and theoretical perspectives on the topic.

Proper research before writing not only authenticates your writing but also helps to make your writing unique and interesting to read.

Mind Mapping

What is Mind Mapping ?

Mind mapping is similar to brainstorming but more visual and less linear. Create mind maps by:

  • Starting with a word or image central to your topic.
  • Placing it in the middle of a big sheet of paper and drawing a line radiating out from it to a major subdivision of the topic.
  • Circling that subdivision, and drawing a line radiating out from it to a more specific subdivision.
  • Continue the process until you run out of ideas.

Mind mapping is especially useful to those who find it easier to assimilate and understand schematic information than linear or sentence-based reasoning.