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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.

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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.

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        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.

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          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.

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            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

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              Published on August 14, 2018

              17 Versatile Work Skills Employers Want to See in Potential Employees

              17 Versatile Work Skills Employers Want to See in Potential Employees

              When we look at a job advertisement, it can seem as though employers want an exhaustive list of experience and technical skills from their new hire.

              They list desirable qualities such as ‘initiative’, ‘team player’ and ‘strong work ethic’. Those words can mean a variety of things to different people and it can be quite hard for employers to illustrate fully the combination of technical and soft skills they want their potential employees to have.

              What they often want is a mix of versatile skills that make it easy for them (and you) to adapt to the changing needs and demands which occur in businesses today.

              After all, adaptability and innovation are what make businesses thrive.

              In today’s ever-changing environment, versatility is a mandatory attitude every working person needs to have. With the following seventeen work skills, you will not only make your employer extremely happy and confident that hiring you was their best decision, you will experience greater personal satisfaction and results.

              1. Know what you want but more so why you want it.

              Employers need to sense you have a solid idea as to why you are a fit for their role and their organization. They need to sense you have your own sense of purpose.

              However, it can be a double-edged sword to say you know exactly what you want to achieve and gain if you are successful in your application and interview.

              Some employers can perceive this as arrogance; your needs first, theirs second. What employers are really looking for is your internal sense of knowing that potential to join their organization is a winning combination for both of you.

              2. Diplomacy and conflict resolution skills save money, lost productivity and efficiency.

              Can you agree to disagree? Can you evaluate without passing judgment or at least be self-aware of your own biases? Can you put these aside to find solutions for the betterment of the team?

              Employers look for versatility in soft work skills that bring peace, lower stress and contribute to creating harmony. If you have ways with words to help heated arguments reduce to a simmer so there is space for compromises, negotiations and reasoning to take place your employers’ respect for you will jump at least tenfold.

              Peace-making skills are invaluable in changing workplace culture, particularly toxic ones. Any good employer knows a strong in-house negotiator will save them thousands of dollars in engaging an external mediator.

              3. Know how to set and reframe your own goals.

              Much research has documented that when employees have a clear purpose, mission and goals, they are more likely to be highly productive. They are less likely to flounder around in many directions nor be busy and not produce results that matter.

              Employers know well that employees who develop their own goals and can align these with those of the company are more self-driven, self-sufficient and take greater ownership for performing their role.

              And the benefit is not only to the employers. You personally will find greater personal satisfaction from achieving targets you have chosen to set yourself. Everyone wins!

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              4. Great time management and organization skills make you highly productive.

              Being able to exercise versatility with these work skills needs no explanation. Great time management does not mean multi-tasking. It actually uses more brain power and reduces effectiveness.

              Having great skills to prioritize your activities and demands, being able to assess how long things might take you to address are planning skills which greatly aid effective and better execution.

              Working in harmony with your colleagues’ timetables makes for better teamwork and workflow plus a less stressed environment.

              In today’s working world, any strategies for reducing stress-invoking opportunities are like finding golden nuggets. Your employer will want to hold on to those for dear life!

              5. Be a flexible team player by being able to change roles when required.

              Employers will be looking to see how flexible a team player, a potential employee could be.

              If you are a natural leader, being a better team player might, in fact, mean you stepping down from the helm and encouraging someone else to exercise and step into their leadership potential.

              It might be more beneficial to your employer to play the role of Indian as opposed to the Chief in certain situations. Stepping into different positions on your team not only helps you grow but also the rest of your team.

              Employers relish having a versatile work team which can adapt and is ready and willing to play different roles, even if uncomfortable when crises happen.

              6. Initiative, self-motivated and driven.

              When you have your own internal reasons for looking to undertake a role your motivation is driven by something sizzling inside of you.

              There is a personal drive and desire for the satisfaction you will experience when you meet a certain target that no other person will be able to give to you.

              When you can genuinely identify and demonstrate your own personal connection to the role’s objectives and the greater goals of your employer’s business, they will see you have an internal drive that they don’t need to whip and flog to keep the momentum going.

              Any employer will be grateful they just need to help navigate you and support you with the right tools and network and off you go.

              7. Be confident but not arrogant.

              Imagine if you were conducting initial telephone interviews with shortlisted candidates and one of the questions they asked was:

              “How long would it be until I’ll be eligible for a pay rise or promotion?”

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              There is a significant difference between being confident and arrogant. Employers are not looking for confidence purely in you being able to perform every aspect of your role at gold star level.

              It comes with being comfortable to say you don’t understand, you have made a mistake, you need support, further training, acknowledging what your limits are and being willing to risk stepping outside your comfort zone.

              When you’re a new kid on the block, respecting that you may need to learn to walk before you can run is essential. Unless it is your job to start making significant changes from day one, chances are you’re going to create enemies if you’re so confident your new methods and ideas should replace existing processes.

              8. A positive attitude.

              Demonstrating positivity as a work skill that will truly win over your new employer is about being genuine and actively applying strategies which look for the glass half full.

              Recruiters and employers are not dumb. They can easily see through short-term bright smiles, nervous giggling and general ‘you just need to think positive’ statements.

              In the face of grueling challenges, employers are going to look much more favorably on that candidate who can acknowledge the negative features of a situation but still encourage another solution-focused perspective to be adopted.

              Even better, if you can use language effectively to demonstrate how you have adopted a positive perspective and helped turned around a tough situation.

              It is one thing to have a positive attitude but your potential employer will see you as a superhero if you can show them how you have successfully applied it.

              9. You are resourceful but know the value of asking for help.

              There is nothing more unproductive (let alone frustrating) than that person who simply asks out loud a question to their team when they could simply have Googled the answer.

              Or worse still, they have a manual at their fingertips which has the answer to their question…they were simply too lazy to look for themselves.

              Be that person with Sherlock Holmes as their middle name who sleuths like a dog after a buried bone. You can research and turn over stones to discover and learn what you need but you also are able to ask for help and assistance when you need to.

              Any employer will relish that person who looks to discover the answers to their own questions first before reaching out and asking for help.

              10. Emotional intelligence creates a harmonious workflow.

              Despite the level of seniority of your role having a strong ability to handle emotions is fast becoming an essential work skill (and also life skill).

              It is even more desirable for any employer when your work skill set includes the ability to detect, adapt to and have skills in managing certain emotional patterns of others you need to work with, manage or report to.

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              So much time, energy and productivity is lost due to individuals’ lack of skills in this area. Any manager who can see you possess and can demonstrate such versatile work skills will think they’ve won the managerial lottery!

              11. Be able to adapt your learning style.

              There is no real evidence that using preferred learning styles actually increase the rate at which we learn nor the effectiveness of certain styles.

              However, being able to make changes to what we are given to learn and adapting it to suit our needs and preferences does help us settle into a new work transition sooner.

              We also need to recognize that even though we feel uncomfortable learning a new skill a certain way, it might actually be the way we need to receive it to cement the learning. It is also likely that our new employer only knows or has a budget to deliver training in a certain way.

              Either we can choose to adapt or resist but we know for sure the latter is not going to benefit to anyone.

              12. Flexible leadership style.

              Dan Goleman has conducted extensive research on different leadership styles, emphasizing that being versatile to switch between different styles (e.g. authoritative, coaching, affiliate, coercive, pace-setting) and knowing when to do is a fundamental skill for any leader.

              Being able to change your style to lead other people is as important as how you lead your own role responsibilities.

              13. Incredible communication skills that actively listen and give clear messages.

              Strong and effective communication across all mediums takes time, life experience and highly developed intuition.

              Knowing when to use email, a face to face conversation or telephone discussion is one thing. Another is to use words which emotionally connect and influence the receiver to accept, hear and heed your message.

              Great communicators know that it is their responsibility as much as the receiver for good communication to take place. However, they also know that the receiver may not feel this is the case.

              When you can listen equally, be sensitive to read between the lines to hear the message of ineffective communicators and can respond kindly with inspiring, equalizing and encouraging words, your influence and general likeability as a new addition to your employer’s team will develop in leaps and bounds.

              14. Accountability, responsible and dependable.

              We’ve all worked with people or managers at some point who lay external blame the instance something goes wrong.

              Contrary to popular belief, making mistakes and owning up to it is a highly desirable and versatile work skill that gains loyalty and understanding particularly when mistakes occur.

              Owning up to errors early allows both yourself and the business to recover quickly and shows you’re willing to take responsibility to continue forward on when you have stumbled.

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              When you illustrate you can do this, you build your employer’s trust and faith in you.

              15. Exercise proactive self-awareness.

              Self-reflection is a highly empowering work skill that contributes greatly to becoming better and performing better.

              When you actively look for the achievement, celebrate your success and look for pockets of where mistakes you have made can be corrected you improve faster, become more effective and make your work easier.

              When you start to look at your own errors, receiving feedback from your employer about the same errors can feel far less confronting and having corrective conversations is easier, transparent and far less stressful and emotional.

              You naturally increase your resilience and make life easier for yourself and your employer if you conduct regular self-check-ins and keep your employer updated.

              16. Apply a problem-solving growth mindset.

              When faced with a problem or challenge, your ability to activate a growth mindset is a highly versatile work skill employers love. Not only are you able to reduce the pain and anguish that a fixed mindset can sustain but your ability to remain open to possibilities to find different pathways or ideas is refreshing and helpful.

              If your thought patterns automatically ask: “How can we?” or you often think “there must be a way”, you will only contribute to creating growth opportunities for your organization and inspire others to think the same way.

              17. Be teachable.

              If you have ever tried to teach someone a new skill or technique and they keep reverting back to traditional ways that are familiar to them, you might have become frustrated to the point of giving up.

              Don’t be that person who’s stuck in tradition which no longer serves the business. Whether you are entering a new environment, learning new software or negotiation skills, know that all employers need people who are open to being taught.

              Innovation is a core concern of every business. Innovation means change and change means doing something different.

              Stay versatile and keep learning

              Technical skills can often be taught. Ray Croc illustrated how well a systemized franchise can dominate the planet. Over 36,000 McDonald’s establishments around the world are run by managers barely in their twenties!

              Soft work skills, however, take time to develop, learn and confidently apply.

              There is a key combination of work skills that would make any candidate employer’s dream. However, the essential factor underlying all of these work skills is versatility.

              Equip yourself with these 17 work skills, stay curious and keep learning; and you’ll always nail the job you want.

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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