D. Software Tools, Tips, and Techniques
- There are various tricks and tips you can use to help speed up the research process.
There are a variety of things you can do to streamline your research process by taking control of your search engine, utilizing your browser, and more:
– As we said before, Google’s not always the best go-to resource. Oftentimes, Google’s search results will be populated with less-than-academic information. Here are a couple of tips to help you trim the fat and find more academically appropriate sources:
- Add “students” to any search query. This will populate your search results will more academic sources. Some of the resources that are “student-oriented” are the most helpful.
Example: christopher columbus students >> searches for sites containing the words “christopher” “columbus” and “students”; you’re more likely to get academic sources aimed at helping students
- Add “-.com” to a search query to remove URLs that end in .com from your search results. .Com URLs are for businesses, and they are the least likely to give you credible information. Instead, look for URLs that end in .gov (government), .edu (education), or .org (organization).
Example: cancer -.com >> pulls up sites pertaining to “cancer,” except those that are commercial
- Use “-” to remove unwanted information. This is best used when the search query you’re using could have multiple meanings or interpretations. Google will find all things related to the main query, minus whatever you put right after the minus sign.
Example: cancer -zodiac >> brings up results related to cancer, except those that refer to the Cancer zodiac sign
- Use quotes when you are searching for a specific phrase. Google will search for all of the words in your query together.
Example: “it was the best of times” >> searches for pages containing the whole phrase; Google’s more likely to find the exact source you want
- Use “~” to search for similar words to the ones your searching.
Example: ~native americans >> searches for Native Americans and other related words, like “indigenous peoples”
- “…” allows you to search within a particular range of dates.
Example: benedict XVI 2000…2005 >> searches for information related to the pope within that year range
- Use “define:” when searching for a definition.
Example: define: epilepsy >> brings up a definition for the word
- Use “site:” when searching within a particular type of URL (.com, .edu, .gov, etc.). Be sure to put text immediately after the colon.
Example 1: shakespeare site:edu >> searches for “shakespeare” sites that are educational
Example 2: site:nytimes.com “global warming” >> searches the New York Times website for information related to the phrase “global warming”
Tip: Save time when researching. You may notice that there’s a small blue triangle to the left of the first item on any Google search results page. If you press “Enter” (on a PC) or “Return” (on a Mac), you’ll be taken to the link that the blue triangle is next to. To move the triangle up and down, use the arrow keys on your computer. Pressing Enter/Return and using your arrow keys will help save you time so you don’t have to go back and forth between the mouse and your keyboard.
Making good use of your browser
- Tabbed browsing – The most popular browsers today (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera) have tabbed browsing. When researching, use tabbed browsing to help you streamline your research workflow. Press and hold “Control” (on a PC) or “Command” (on a Mac) when you are clicking a link to open the page in a new tab. Using this technique on search results pages to bring up each different link in a new tab. This way, you can go through a lot of information in a short amount of time.
- Press (Safari) “Command” + W to close a tab, one at a time.
- Save tabs – If you have to leave your browser in the middle of a research session, you can save all of your current open tabs by following these steps in your browser:
- Safari: Bookmarks >> Add Bookmark for These “X” Tabs… Then, when you’re ready to get back to researching, you can open all of your tabs and pick up from where you left off.
- Firefox: Bookmarks >> Bookmark All Tabs…
- Chrome: Bookmarks >> Bookmark All Tabs…
- Internet Explorer: Favorites >> Add All Tabs to Favorites…