How do I collect information about anything

11 tips for researching the Internet

Whether foreign words, technical terms or scientific discourses: Anyone who has to prepare a presentation or write a term paper asks the search engines on the Internet for initial information. But what can you rely on here? The abundance of hits is often deceptive; on closer inspection, many search results turn out to be a flop. Very few results are suitable for demanding research. But if you optimize your search behavior, you will get a better yield.

The Internet consists of billions of unstructured jumbled web pages. Search engines help to find your way through this wealth of data. Without them, most of the information on the Internet would be unusable because it would not be findable. The market leader among the search engines is the provider Google. Although there are alternatives at yahoo and msn, so many people choose Google that the term "Googling" has already established itself as an independent term for searching the net.

1. Search with advanced search functions

For a quick "lookup" on the Internet, it is usually sufficient to simply enter the keyword of the desired information in the search field. In this way a first useful query is obtained. But it can be done better, more precisely and faster. In many cases, the search can be optimized with simple additions.

What options do you have to refine your search?

2. Search with multiple terms AND, OR

3. Exclude search terms with a minus -

Search terms can be excluded with a minus. This is especially important when the same search term can be in a different context. For example with ambiguous names: If I want to find out more about Homer's Odyssey in the field of Greek poetry, I will soon come across Homer Simpson via Google. Both are spelled the same and Google doesn't know anything about the interests I associate with my search. All pages on which a homer is mentioned are output. With the search query Homer-Simpson Homers with a Simpson appended are not taken into account. It is important that there is a space in front of the minus.

4. Search for phrases or proper names with quotation marks ""

Let's stay with proper names and reverse the case. Now all you really want to find is Homer Simpson. All other homers are not to be considered. If you are looking for a special person, the proper name can be put in quotation marks to specify the search. With the query "Homer Simpson" You will only receive pages that contain both terms
Placing what you are looking for in quotation marks "" is a function that can be used to search not only for proper names, but also for entire pieces of text or phrases. In this way, only what exactly corresponds to the sentence or section entered is output. Lecturers and professors are also familiar with this function. This makes it easy to check randomly whether a text has been copied or not.

5. Search within a specific area

Words with a colon have a special meaning for Google. With the applications site:  inurl:intitle: and intext: only certain areas of the web are searched for the desired term. Either the complete website, the URL, the title or the text of the page.

So it is easy to find all the places where, for example, Homer Simpson is mentioned on The search query with the operator site: would look like this: Homer Simpson site:

6. Quality check - this information will help you

  • The imprint states who is the operator of the website
  • Information about the author can be found under "About us"
  • How up-to-date is the website (year information?)
  • Are references available?

7. This is how you can find the latest news on your topic

In the extended search functions on Google, the drop-down list "Any time" can be used to specify the period from which your hits should come.

8. Alternative: use special search engines

BASE is one of the world's largest search engines for freely accessible scientific documents on the Internet. Over 60 million scientific documents from over 3000 sources are currently listed.

9. Use meta search engines

Meta search engines do not have their own database and consequently no index. If a user makes a search query with the help of a meta search engine, this accesses data from other search engines instead of its own lists.
For example:

10. Dealing with Wikipedia

One of the most frequently used Internet sources is certainly the reference work Wikipedia. Millions of articles have been created by volunteer editors on a wide variety of topics. Very helpful for an initial overview of the topic. Unfortunately, since the content of the articles is not constant, Wikipedia is not suitable as a citable source.

11. You should never forget that

  • Basically, a reliable sorting of the hits with the help of search engines is not possible. The factors vendors use for their lists are unknown.
  • Search engines contain a lot of hidden advertisements. Unfortunately, this affects the relevance of the hits.
  • Different results are output depending on the location of the searcher.
  • Scientifically relevant data are often lost in the abundance of hits.