How to Conduct Internet Research: Broad vs. Specific Internet Searches Worksheet

Research Writing: Research Process

Practice with this Internet Research: Conducting Broad and Specific Internet Searches Worksheet to get familiar with refining your search proficiency for research writing. By completing 10 exercises, you learn how to go from a broad search that seeks more information to a specific one that focuses in on specific keywords and key concepts.
Essay Writing in the Social Sciences


For each of the exercises below, follow the instructions for any internet searches, and record the information for which you are asked.

  • Go to the Yahoo Directory, and conduct a broad search for a topic that interests you. How many subcategories are there?

  • Click on at least five links to different websites. How many of them provide any type of useful information or guidance for further research?

  • Can you identify any keywords, key concepts or areas of interest to create more narrow search parameters?

  • List at least three additional web directories. List them below.

    Web directory #1:

    Web directory #2:

    Web directory #3:

  • If you intended to conduct a more specific search for internet sources, what questions would you ask a librarian if you were seeking help with your search? List at least two questions.

    Question #1:

    Question #2:

  • Select one of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing), and get familiar with its syntax for searching. List three components of the syntax below.

    Syntax #1:

    Syntax #2:

    Syntax #3:

  • Use the syntax and the related search engine to do a more specific search. How did your search results change?

  • Conduct the same search using synonyms or alternative phrasing. List the search terms you used below, and explain how your search results changed and whether they improved the results you obtained.

  • Try locating an online database where you have access to full-text scholarly journal articles. What type of results do you receive searching with the same search terms? Explain.

  • What did you find the most difficult about searching for information on the topic you choose, and based off your preliminary research, do you feel the research paper topic is viable? Explain.