Students Conducting Online Research


You're probably thinking but I know how to Google, but do you really? There is a lot more efficient Googling than you might think: in a recent study on student research skills, 75% of the students couldn't perform a well-executed search on Google. When the success of your term paper hangs in the balance, using Google effectively is crucial, but most of students surprisingly just don't know how.

Here we gonna go over some valuable tips that will help you refine your googling skills, as well as some other great things.


How to Google
Search terms called operators can help you get far more specific results than you would by only using generic search terms.

Lets say you want NYTimes articles about test scores in college, but not SATs, written between 2008 - 2010.

Google: site:nytimes.com ~college "test scores" -SATs 2008..2010

Site: only searches the pages of that site.
~ Will also search related words, such as higher education and university.
" " Searches for exact phrase, not each of the words separately.
- Excludes this term from the search.
.. Shows all results from within the designated timerange. 




Now you want to find a report on  the different air speed velocities of common swallows.

Don't ask Google questions. Think about how an answer would be phrased, and search for that (ie, never search for ' What is the air speed velocity...')

Google: filetype:pdf air speed intitle:velocity of *swallow

filetype: Searches only results of the file type you designate. Can use for pdf, doc, jpg, etc.
intitle: Only shows results with that word in the title (in this case, "velocity").
* Replaces itself with common terms in your search (in this case, Red Rumped swallow and Lesser Striped swallow will both be searched, along with many others).

Google Scholar

For most projects you work on in college, simple googling won't do the trick on its own. Enter Google Scholar, which exclusively searches academic and scholarly work - that is the kind of work you will need to be citing in your papers.

Example you want to find papers about photosynthesis by Dr.Ronald L.Green and Dr. Thomas P. Buttz.

Google: author:green photosynthesis "tp buttz"

Author: This will search for papers by green rather than papers involving the word green.
Just like a normal google search, this is where the topic you're looking for goes.
" " For more specific results, you can put the authors full name or initials in quotes.




Other Google tricks

Definitions
Good for quick word definitions. Just put define: in front of the word you want.

Google: define:cattle

Calculator
For quick math problems, don't worry about opening your calculator app. Just type the equation into Google using +,-,*,/ and parentheses for basic functions.

Google: (2*3)/5+14-5

Unit Converter
Easiest unit conversion ever. Just type what you're looking for in a sentence with the units you have and want.

Google: 60 pounds in kilograms


Keyboard Shortcuts
90% of internet users don't know how to use Ctrl + F to find items on a page. If you're one of those 90%, this section is for you.

Find on page.
The most important keyboard shortcut for research, ever. Press Ctrl + F when looking at any document or web page, type in the word you're trying to find, and presto, all instances of the word are highlighted for you.

Zoom In/Out
Sometimes online PDFs make for strained reading. Bump up the size a few notches with this simple command.

Ctrl  + / -

Select The Address Bar
Doing rapid Google searches in a number of tabs can fatiguing. Instead of mousing up to the address bar every time, just hit Ctrl + L and it's already selected.

Research Tips

Use Your Library's Website
Google should never be your only research option. Most colleges' library web pages have links to wealths of resources at your disposal. This is where you can find access to scholarly databases such as JSTOR, which publish content that you can't access for free elsewhere.

Don't Cite Wikipedia
Let's face it: we all use Wikipedia when conducting research. It's a great first resource to familiarize one's self with a topic, but using Wiki for a research paper is a deadly academic sin. But if you find a good wiki, check out the reference links at the bottom for more credible sources.

Mine Bibliographies
This tip is applicable for both digital and traditional research. If you find a great book, study, or article, chances are it cites some other great sources. Always thoroughly explore the bibliographies of your research materials for leads, and look up everything you find that seems promising