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Six Techniques to Get More from the Web than Google Will Tell You

Six Techniques to Get More from the Web than Google Will Tell You

Google is great, but it can’t always tell you what makes a Web site or source of research material authoritative. Professional librarians and researchers explain where to look online to find the professional, technical and industry expertise you need

The Internet has changed research dramatically. Now, it's hard to resist defaulting to search engines, especially Google, as its capabilities grow. But you miss opportunities to get valuable insights into IT topics if you rely only on search engines.

Professional librarians and researchers will tell you that the Web has many unexplored opportunities for finding more information on business topics

Professional librarians and researchers will tell you that the Web has many unexplored opportunities for finding more information on business topics. Pursue these six techniques to improve your research results:

1. Use Search Engines and Wikipedia to Find Quality Research Sources

Search engines are a good place to begin. It makes sense to start at search sites like Google, Yahoo and Ask.com, and to see if there's an article on Wikipedia. But use them to carry you to better places.

"Wikipedia itself is very hit or miss," says Ann Cullen, an adjunct professor at Simmons College's library science program and curriculum services librarian at Harvard Business School's Baker Library. "I have seen Wikipedia entries that shocked me because of what was not included. And others blew me away because they were so good." Cullen adds that "Wikipedia is an excellent avenue for finding other resources, but Wikipedia itself should not be the source."

Other search engines like GeniusFind and Beaucoup categorize topic-specific databases such as network solutions and software platforms, making them a good place to start.

2. Search Blogs for Specialized Experts Who Sift Through the Web for You

Blogs and forums are online homes for subject experts. One way to use Google as a jumping-off place is to perform a keyword search using its Blog Search function.

Blogs are a fantastic way to see what your colleagues around the world are thinking about on any given topic, from supply chain management to any kind of system implementation. But go in with eyes wide open: Google often brings you to sites that want to sell you something.

"It's hard to separate 'selling' from trend discussion and learning," says Jessamyn West, technology librarian and international speaker, who has a popular library blog (www.librarian.net) that keeps library professionals up to date on research and technology trends.

But again, Google isn't the only search engine that allows you to move efficiently through blogs. Cullen at Harvard Business School's Baker Library says, "The best blog search I've seen, which breaks it out by categories, is QuackTrack." QuackTrack is a large browsable blog index, listing more than 11,000 blogs under technology and its subcategories.

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