When I was in college as a history major, research meant hours in the bowels of the campus library, sifting thru pages of information and taking pages of tedious notes because who was going to waste their laundry quarters on the photo copy machine?
Research today is much different, and a lot easier! Yet sometimes we can get bogged down in the wealth of the information the internet can provide us with the jab of the return key.
Everyone knows that if you are looking for information on the internet, the first place to start is good ole Google. But, even your Google search can be improved. A great place to find tips on how to search google more effectively is by following this link.
Still, there are a wealth of other places to find information where you can narrow down your searches and find more specific and useful information relative to your search.
A Google alternative I like to search around when I’m sent on research projects for aJuxt is Carrot2. Carrot2 is a “clustering engine” meaning it sifts through multiple search engines and platforms then pools your results on the left hand side of the screen into convenient subject folders. On the right hand side of the screen is a list of all links included in your subject folders. This is useful if you have a broad subject like “Wheelchair funding” and you need to narrow your search into more specific categories like “wheelchair funding grants” or “wheelchair van funding”. Also for those who are more visual, Carrot2 allows you to put your results in graphic form.
I also like to use social media when hunting for information. Social Media is a great place to gather information about local businesses, competitors or opinions on subjects. Places like Facebook and Twitter usually have search bars located at the top of their pages. On Facebook, you can even search whatever page or group you are in for information. On Twitter, you can create a list to help alert you whenever the subject you are searching is posted about. You can find more information on how to create those lists here.
The most convenient way to search social media is using hashtags. Simply click on a hashtag topic you see posted or search a hashtag in the search bar. To decide which hashtag to search, remind yourself that hashtags are used by social media content creators to share ideas and news on a specific topic. These results are real time and often are more relevant when searching a time sensitive issue. In the information age, hashtags are used to bring conversations on the same topic into a single thread to make it convenient for information consumers to view and compare ideas in real time.
Other social media search tools include Topsy, Social Searcher and Social Mention. Some of these tools are paid and some are free. A great article on social media monitoring tools can be found here.
I love researching but I’m a busy lady so when I sit down to research, I want to get right to the bottom of a topic before my latte is gone. This list of tricks helps me shorten my research time and I hope it helps you, too. Of course, the BEST way to find what you are looking for on the internet is just to hire aJuxt and me, the resident Digital Warrens Specialist.
Written by Carrie Hellbusch || Digital Warrens Specialist