Conducting internet research is all about knowing how to navigate and sift through the vast amount of information to find what you need. As you first start researching online, your primary goal is to do a broad internet search that is akin to reading for information. Once you have identified key areas and subcategories within the broader subject, you turn to more specific internet searches.
Start your internet research by doing a board search. This gives you an overview of the subject. The first step is to browse several subject-classified web directories, such as Yahoo!. For a more comprehensive list of general-subject web directories, visit Wikipedia.
Within the web directory you select, pay attention to how the main subject is broken down into smaller subcategories. This clues you in to how the subject is organized and allows you to identify some of the common research questions or issues within the subject. The directory shows you the number of sites for each subcategory, and provides links you should examine. However, this is not always representative of the sites that have actual information you might find useful because many websites have little to no content or are simply a list of links to other sources.
While you can go through as many links as you like, it is similar to just randomly walking through a library to skim whichever book you happen to pull off the shelf. Instead, take note of the keywords and key concepts from the sites you do visit. Take those keywords and key concepts, and use them in a general search engine, such as Google or Bing. Do a test search while taking note of the quantity and quality of the search results for the first few pages. This should give you an idea of the ease with which you can find more information with more in-depth, specific research.
Once you have narrowed down the searchable keywords and key concepts on which to seek information, you are ready to do a more specific internet search. Take the following steps as you conduct specific internet research.
The more you refine your search, the more likely you are to obtain the information you need. After a round or two of specific searches in general search engines, consider utilizing the following search aids:
Whether your first search on the internet is a broad search or a specific one, knowing which keywords and key concepts to search for is vital to your success with internet research. Other sources on the internets are found in a variety of places, from government agency and informational websites to electronic sources for a variety of online periodicals. Stay diligent, flexible and determined with your internet searches, and you should have no problem finding information you can use for your research project.