Doing online searches

By Gordon Rugg

So how do you actually do an online search?

The most common approach is to type 2.4 words into Google, with 14% of those words spelled wrong, and 6% of those words being about sex. That isn’t exactly the most inspiringly professional or efficient way of operating.

A more professional and efficient way of operating is as follows:

  • Read the manual and learn how to get the most out of the software you’re using (e.g. by using the “advanced search” features)
  • Read some articles about best practice in online search
  • Ask your friendly librarian for help and advice

When online search is involved, I do all of those things myself, and very useful they are too.

Many of my previous articles have been about the unwritten craft skills involved in some aspect of research. With online search, for a change, there’s plenty of readily available information about the craft skills, so I’m not planning to re-cover ground that’s already been covered well by other people. Instead, I’ll give some examples of what those craft skills and of how they can help make your online searches easier and better. I’ve also included some keywords that should help you find useful tutorial articles quickly and easily.

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