The Tao of Research

The Tao of Research is better understood with a few key terms:

  1. Truncate
    Shorten to the root to get more/better results. For example: The words democracy, Democrats, democratization share the root democra, so truncate it to democra.
  2. Drill down
    In research, to move from general to specific terms. For example, I might begin with a search for human rights, but then refine my search by looking within those results for human trafficking, then human trafficking AND Romania AND children.
  3. Boolean Logic
    Think of a Venn Diagram. Using and, or, not to filter results. Hint: Or=More.
  4. Vetted
    These databases or search results have been critically examined by experts. Irrelevant, improper, and illicit
  5. Quotations
    Human rights will return myriad hits, but “human rights” will give you fewer, better hits because the search is only for those two words in that order. You can add a wild card (“human right*”) to search for both “human right” and “human rights”.
  6. Wildcard
    Using an asterisk to include related search criteria. This is effective if you want to open up your search to many results. For example, if you want to search for articles mentioning woman and women, use wom*n, search for democra* to include democracy, democratizations, Democrats, etc.
  7. Database
    We pay for these collections, which supports the authors and pays the researchers who vet the collection.; therefore, they are password protected. These are more productive that a free search engine if you want resources that aren’t available to the public.
  8. Search Engines
    A program for the retrieval of data from a database or network, esp. the Internet. For example, Google, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc. There are many more with different and advanced search features.

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