Advertising
Advertising

12 Student Hacks To Become A Better Online Researcher

12 Student Hacks To Become A Better Online Researcher

Summer is underway and if you’re a student, school is probably the last thing you want to think about. But here’s the thing: the fall semester is only two months away, so you’re going to have to start thinking about school sooner than you think.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that sobering truth out of the way, let’s talk about what you can do to make the coming school year less stressful. You’re probably going to have to write a research paper or two (or ten). Luckily, there are strategies and services you can use to becomes a better online researcher and essay writing resources that will help you hone your academic writing. Equip yourself with these 12 effective online research hacks and you’ll be set to take on the new semester.

1. Check Out Your School’s Resources

Before looking elsewhere, see what trusty resources are available at your school. Schools will often have essay writing services that will give you strategies to research more effectively. For example, the Purdue Online Writing Lab is a popular resource for essay writing and research tips. Your school’s library will also have access to academic databases like the MLA International Bibliography.

2. Search Unique Keywords

When doing research for the topic of your essay, you will want to use specific keywords to find relevant sources. The broader the keyword you search is, the more results your search will yield. This is actually a bad thing, since most of those results won’t be relevant to your research. Use specific, unique keywords to narrow your search results to more relevant sources. For example, if you’re researching victorian clothing, search specific articles of clothing, such as “victorian horsehair petticoat,” as opposed to “victorian clothing.”

3. Use Specific Phrases

Here’s a quick but effective keyword search hack: put quotations around the phrase you are searching. This tells Google that you are looking specifically for words in the order you are quoting, rather than searching for results that contain any combination of those words. For example, if you are researching the average income of millennials compared to Generation X, you could search “average income of millennials” to get results that use that exact phrasing.

Advertising

average ex

    4. Use Google Scholar

    Google Scholar is an index of specifically scholarly publications. Using Google Scholar eliminates the step of sifting through all of the irrelevant and unreliable results in Google’s regular search. Many of the articles indexed on Google Scholar aren’t free to read, however–but it’s still a good way to find specific articles for your essay, which you can then look for at your school library.

    google scholar

      5. Use Google Books

      This is one of my favorite services from Google. Google Books is an index of specifically book publications. It’s a great way to find reputable sources on specific topics. Typically, Google Books will only offer sample sections of books, but you can still find valuable information. Plus, Google Books always displays the copyright pages in their previews, so you can properly cite the book in your essay. Google Books is a great way to see if a book will be useful before looking for it at a library.

      Advertising

      google books

        6. Browse Message Boards

        This might seem counter intuitive—after all, chatting is usually something you do to procrastinate. But message boards can be a great source for insights on a topic and links to useful resources, particularly if your essay is about a niche topic. A lot of message boards exist for specialized interests. For instance, if you’re working on a history project about World War I, there are many message boards for history enthusiasts, who share old photographs and documents. Places like these can be a goldmine for unique material.

        7. Use the Advanced Search Function

        On the Google homepage, click “Settings” and then select “Advanced Search.” This will open up the Advanced Search function, which allows you to narrow down your search by filters like language, region, and file type. You can also search for exact words or phrases, as well as eliminate results with certain words or phrases.

        google advanced search

          8. Set a Search Time Limit

          It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole when searching for something online. One page leads to another, and suddenly you’re on a site about what your whiskey personality is when you were supposed to be researching ancient Greek festivals. Setting a time limit for how long you can pursue one keyword at a time will help keep you on track. For example, set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes: this will allow you time to search a keyword, to skim various sites, and to jot down some important notes. If you find a site with a lot of useful information, bookmark it so you can dedicate more time to looking through it after.

          9. Annotate Your Notes as You Research

          Part of your assignment might be to submit an annotated bibliography. But even if it isn’t part of your assignment, writing down some notes about a source before moving on to the next one can be very helpful. You will probably look through tens, if not hundreds of pages while researching, so figuring out which source said what afterwards can end up wasting a lot of time. Create a document with the links to your sources, the author (if one is cited) and a few key points about the article. This will prompt you to remember which article is which.

          Advertising

          10. Know Which Sources Are Reliable

          Let’s face it: the internet is full of trash. Anyone can write anything and publish it on the web. For every reputable source you find on a topic, there will be 100 unreliable sources. How do you sift through the unreliable sources? A good place to start is, of course, your school’s library search engine. Your school’s library will already have an index of peer-reviewed and scholarly resources. But even if you’re using a regular search engine, there are indicators you can look for to confirm if a source is reliable or not.

          Look into the organization that runs the website: is it a public organization or a nonprofit organization? For example, Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan think tank and a popular source for statistical information.

          pew research

            Or ask, is the site privately owned? The information can still be legitimate if it’s privately owned, but be conscious of how a company may present information in a way that favors their business. Even data can be biased.

            Also look to see if the author has cited their sources. Most reputable sources will list the sources they drew their information from.

            Advertising

            11. Use Online Libraries and Encyclopedias

            Depending on the size of your school’s library, you may have limited access to certain books you want to use for your essay. Luckily, there are a number of online libraries that are free to access. Books on Project Gutenberg, for example, are completely free to read and use. You can also access certain online encyclopedias for free, like Encyclopaedia Britannica. These will give you access to articles on a wide variety of topics, and are credible sources that you can cite in your bibliography.

            12. Use More Than One Search Engine

            Keep in mind that different search engines index results differently. That’s because they have different bots crawling and indexing pages. So if you feel you’ve exhausted your results on Google, try using Bing or Yahoo! to see if your searches yield different results.

            bing

              Using any combination of these online research hacks will make the research and essay writing process easier and more effective. Now keep these research hacks in mind and get back to enjoying your summer!

              Featured photo credit: www.unsplash.com via unsplash.com

              More by this author

              Sara McGuire

              Content Editor

              7 Fundamental Design Principles You Can Learn From Star Wars [Infographic] graphic design 10 Graphic Design Software Alternatives to Photoshop 8 Tips to Make Engaging Presentation Slides How to Turn a Process Into an Infographic Poster [Infographic] How to Choose the Best Colors For Your Data Charts

              Trending in Work

              1 How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Get Unstuck 2 The Lifehack Show Episode 10: Dealing With Burnt Out Bosses 3 8 Reasons Why You’re Unhappy at Work (And What to Do) 4 Top 10 Interview Questions for Hiring the Best Managers 5 How to Bounce Back Gracefully After Getting Fired

              Read Next

              Advertising
              Advertising
              Advertising

              Last Updated on October 22, 2019

              How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Get Unstuck

              How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Get Unstuck

              There are plenty of people who successfully made a career change at the age of 40 or above:

              The Duncan Hines cake products you see in the grocery store are a good example. Hines did not write his first food guide until age 55 and he did not license his name for cake mixes until age 73.

              Samuel L. Jackson made a career change and starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46.

              Ray Kroc was age 59 when he bought his first McDonald’s.

              And Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart at the age of 44.

              I could keep going, but I think you get the point. If you have a sound mind and oxygen in your lungs, you have the ability to successfully make a career change.

              In this article, I’ll look into why making a career change at 40 seems so difficult for you, and how to make the change and get unstuck from your stagnant job.

              What’s Holding You Back from Making a Career Change?

              There are a flood of amazing reasons to make a career change at 40. Heck, you could argue the benefits of making a career change at any age. However, there is something a little different about making a career change at 40.

              When you are 40, you probably have lots of “responsibilities” that come into the decision-making process. What do I mean by responsibilities, you ask?

              Responsibilities tend to be our fears and self-doubt wrapped in a bow of logic and reason. You may say to yourself:

              • I have bills to pay and a family to support. Can I afford the risk associated with a career change?
              • What about the friends I have made over the years? I cannot just abandon them.
              • What if I do not like my career change as much as I thought I would? I could end up miserable and stuck in a worse situation.
              • My new career is so different than what I have been doing, I need additional training and certifications. Can I afford this additional expense and do I have the time recoup my investment?
              • The economy is not the best and there is so much uncertainty surrounding a new career. Maybe it would be better to wait until I retire from this company in 15 years, and then I can start something new.

              If you have experienced any of these thoughts, they will only pacify you for a short period of time. Whether that time is a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years.

              Since you know that you prefer to do something else for a living, you start to feel stagnant in your current position.

              Advertising

              Your reasons for inaction that used to work are no longer doing the trick. What used to be a small fissure in your dissatisfaction in your current position is now a chasm.

              Ideally, you never stay in a situation until that point, but if you did, there is still hope.

              4 Tips To Change Your Career at 40

              You do not have to feel stagnant in your current role any longer. You can take steps to conquer your fears and self-doubt so you can accomplish your goal of changing your career.

              The challenge of changing your career is not knowing where to begin. That feeling of overwhelm and the fear of uncertainty is what keeps most people from moving forward.

              To help you successfully change your career at the age of 40, follow these four tips.

              1. Value Your Time Above Money

              There is nothing more valuable than your time. You are likely receiving a pay-check or two every month that is replenishing your income. Money is something you can always receive more of.

              When it comes to your time, when it is gone, it is gone. That is why waiting for the perfect situation to make a career change is the wrong mindset to have.

              Realistically, you will never find the perfect situation. There will always be something that could be better or a project you want to finish before you leave.

              By placing your time above money, you will maximize your opportunity to succeed and avoid stagnation.

              If you feel disconnected when you are at work, understand that you are not alone. According to a Gallup Poll, only 32% of U.S. employees said they were actively engaged at work.[1]

              Whether you think your talents are not being properly utilized, the politics of promotion stress you out, or you feel called to do something else with your life; the time to act is now.

              Do not wait until you retire in another 10 to 20 years to make a career change. Put a plan in place to make a career change now. You will thank yourself later.

              Advertising

              2. Build a Network

              Making a career change is not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

              One benefit to being further along in your career is the people you associate with are further along in their career as well.

              Even if most of the people in your immediate network are not in your target industry, you never know the needs of the people with whom they associate.

              A friend of mine recently made a career change and entered the real estate industry. The first thing he did was tell everyone he knew that he was a licensed real estate agent.

              It was not as though he thought everyone he knew was getting ready to sell their home. He wanted to make sure he was in the front of our mind if we spoke to anyone purchasing or selling their home.

              You may have had a similar experience with a financial adviser canvasing the neighborhood. They wanted to let you know they were a local and licensed financial adviser. Whether you or someone you knew was shopping for an adviser, they wanted to make sure you thought of them first.

              The power of your network being further along in their career is they may be the hiring manager or decision-maker.

              You want to let people know you are considering a career move early in the process, so they are thinking of you when the need arises.

              Let me put it to you in the form of a question: When is the best time to let people know you have a snow shoveling business?

              In the summer when there is not a drop of snow on the ground.

              Let them know about your business in the summer. Then ask them if it is okay to keep in touch with them until the need arises. Then you want to spend the entire fall season cultivating and nurturing the relationship. As a result, when the winter comes around, they already know who is going to shovel their snow.

              If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, start throwing out those feelers before the need arises. Then you will be ahead of your competition who waited until the snow fell to start canvasing the neighborhood.

              Advertising

              Learn about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

              3. Believe It Is Possible

              One of the greatest mistakes people make when they want to try something new, is they never talk to people living the life they want.

              If you only talk to friends who have not changed their career in 30 years, what kind of advice do you think they will give you? They are going to give you the advice that they live by. If they have spent 30 years in the same career, they most likely feel stability of career is essential to their life.

              In life, your actions often mirror your beliefs. Someone who wants to start a business should not ask for advice from someone who never started one.

              A person who never took the risk of starting a business is most likely risk adverse. Consequently, they are going to speak on the fact that most businesses fail within the first five years.

              Instead, if you talk to someone who is running a business, they will advice you on the difficulties of starting a business. However, they will also share with you how they overcame those difficulties, as well as the benefits of being a business owner.

              If you want to overcome your fears and self-doubt associated with changing your career at 40, you are going to need to talk to people who have successfully managed a career change.

              They are going to provide you a realistic perspective on the difficulties surrounding the endeavor, but they are also going to help you believe it is possible.

              Studies show the sources of your beliefs include,[2]

              “environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs.”

              By choosing to absorb the successes of others, you are choosing to believe you can change your career at 40. On the other hand, if you absorb the fears and doubts of others, you have chosen to succumb to your own fears and self-doubt.

              4. Put Yourself Out There

              You are most likely going to have to leave your comfort zone to make a career change at 40.

              Advertising

              Reason-being, your comfort zone is built on the experiences you have lived thus far. So that means your current career is in your comfort zone.

              Even though you may be feeling stagnant and unproductive in your career, it is still your comfort zone. This helps explain why so many people are unwilling to pursue a career change.

              If you want to improve your prospects of launching your new career, you are going to need to attend industry events.

              Whether these events are local or a large conference that everyone attends, you want to make it a priority to go. Ideally you want to start with local events because they may be a more intimate setting.

              Many of these events have a professional development component where you can see what skill-sets, certification, and education people are looking for. Here you can find 17 best careers worth going back to school for at 40.

              You can almost survey the group and build your plan of action according to the responses you receive.

              The bonus of exposure to your new industry is you may find yourself getting lucky (when opportunity meets preparation) and creating a valuable relationship or landing an interview.

              Final Thoughts

              Whatever the reason, if you want to change your career, you owe it to yourself to do so. You have valuable in-sight from your current career that can help you position yourself above others.

              Start sharing your story and desire to change your career today. Attend industry events and build a mindset of belief. You have everything you need to accomplish your goal, you only need to take action.

              More About Career Change

              Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/HY-Nr7GQs3k via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] News Gallup: Employee Engagement In US, Stagnant In 2015
              [2] Indian J Psychiatry: The Biochemistry Of Belief

              Read Next