4 Tips for Doing Internet Research

Part of the administrative assistant’s job is often doing research.  We might be doing research to update the company website or provide client’s with resources.  We may be preparing a formal report or gathering information for our manager.  When we do research there are a variety of sources that we can gather information from but one of the fastest and easiest way is to turn to the Internet.

Even though getting information from the Internet is more convenient we still need to be careful how we do our research.  Not all sites are a valuable source of info and we can get varied resources.

Here are a few tips for doing Internet research:

Use several search engines for a variety of results.  Not all search engines will give you the same results.  Yahoo, Google, and Bing are good for general searches but you will find that AltaVista and Ask Jeeves will give you more business oriented results.  Experiment and try different search engines and see what kind of differences you find.

Look for quality sites.  You can often find more quality sites when you pay attention to the extension.  While .com sites are most common they do not always have the best information.  Sometimes the information on .com sites are written by non-experts.  If you want to find expert material consider searching on .gov, .org, and .biz sites.  You can search these specific results by typing site:gov “your search term” into the search engine.  You will only get .gov sites in the results.  Do the same thing with .org or .biz and you’ll be more likely to get good results.

Learn to do Boolean searches.  Boolean search allows you to find more targeted results instead of general information.  Visit this Internet Tutorial  to find out more about Boolean searches and play around with it on a search engine.  Look at the different results you get.  Are some of the results better than others?  More targeted?

Credit your sources.  As a rule of thumb, if it is not generally known knowledge you should credit your source to avoid plagiarizing others’ work.  And if you had to look it up it is not generally known.  There are many ways to credit your sources but MLA and APA are the most widely used; however, you should follow company policies for referencing.