The Power of Google
Now, we come to the part of writing which can be endless, unless you have a strategy. While part of the charm of the Internet is having a vast library of information available at your fingertips, the downside is that you can go into information overload. How do you know where to start? How do you know which article or website is relevant? How do you organize all that information so that when you start to write, you can easily look things up? How do you get exactly what you want from Google without wasting time with search results that just waste your time?
It’s not as simple as just typing a few words into the Google search box. To be a really good researcher (and, thus write awesome articles), you have to know how to quickly find information, how to store it carefully for later use, and most importantly, knowing when to stop researching and start writing! Here, in this chapter, we’ll review some strategies for searching on Google, and also the overall plan for your research time.
Planning Your Research Out
Before we get into the “nitty gritty” details of finding the articles on Google that are most relevant, let’s discuss what you are going to do with them when you find them. Some people just decide to capture as many URLs as they can for a particular topic, but that isn’t the best strategy. For one, without any kind of idea as to what each URL includes, you can’t organize your thoughts well enough. You will open one URL after another trying to find the one that you remember that had a specific topic. Or, you won’t even remember the information in each URL and you will find your topic outline and research to be water downed or of poor quality.
The moral here is that you can’t rely on your memory or just a cursory system of URL links to be able to generate great topics and decent outlines. You need to have a better view of the research that you did and how to eventually organize it in a way that reduces the amount of time you spend searching or re-reading article after article trying to locate the one that you remember. While a list of links is a good memory aide, it’s not really a system for organizing research. You want something that you can open and by briefly reviewing your organized research, you have the facts and information you need almost instantly. That means that you aren’t just going to need the URL, you will need to do more than that, although the URL is a good start.
Maintain File Continuity
The best way to organize your research is to put it all in one file. Later, if you ever get another assignment for the same topic, you can always open that one file and use some of your old work or add new items to it too. And, yet, it’s always in one place, filed in a one document available and easy to find based on the name of your topic. For this exercise, a Word document is one that works very well. You need something that you can cut and paste entire Internet articles into without reaching a space limit or a problem with formatting. So, don’t use Notepad, try to use a fully featured word processing program like Microsoft Word. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of using a paid program, you can use OpenOffice to create your files too.
The first thing you want to do before you start a research session is to open up your word processing document and add a descriptive phrase of exactly what you are looking to research. This will help you later when you are pulling up files to see if they include information you can use in other articles. It also precisely funnels your energy in the right direction and gets you ready to look for a specific area of research. So, pay attention to how you phrase your descriptive title or phrase. It sets the mood for your research session.