How To Start Online Research

Making Online Research Fun and Interesting

I remember when I first began exploring the Internet and computer. I was going to a public library afraid, like many new users, that I would "blow up" the computer trying to use it.

I'm happy to report it didn't happen as you can see; I'm alive and typing!

When I went to Community College, I worked in a Learning Lab where I had to use the computer on a regular basis and that's where my love for online research began.

I could be found spending hours reading, printing and researching a subject -- whether it was for a class project or for personal fun.

I'd like to reassure new users that using a computer is not complicated and I would like to give them some good ideas and links for doing research. No matter what your age, the computer is an endless source of free information and assistance.

Step 1

One of the most important things for me in getting started in my computer research is getting comfortable. I highly recommend the following steps before getting started.

  • Find a time of the day that is most relaxing for you. Morning, mid-morning, noon, early evening, or late at night -- whatever suits you. Just make it a time when you're alone and feeling thoughtful.
  • Organization -- making sure that your work area is organized. This is another way to help you feel comfortable and confident about what you're doing. Get rid of clutter the day before you start your new adventure. Put the things you'll need most close at hand, and arrange your desk or work table the way you need to.
  • Find your "Zen" place -- and what I mean by that is, turn on soft music if that helps, meditate to that or to scripture or which ever you need to help you feel a sense if calm.
  • Don't let the computer intimidate you -- remember, it doesn't work without you. It usually will not talk back to you either, unless you have software installed that will. Otherwise, stop worrying.

Now that you're pretty comfortable, stop staring at the screen and relax, this won't hurt a bit. Have fun!

Step 2

I find it very important that just before doing research on the Internet; make sure you have in mind the subject that you want to find. If you just jump into this unprepared, it's not to say it would not work, but it's much easier to be prepared.

Remember, organization is key!

Make yourself some notes, bring up your search engine, be it, or whatever you prefer, bring it up and type in your subject. Now, this is where it gets fun but it can get complicated. While browsing, read each link that strikes your fancy carefully before diving into the reading and note taking process of it.

In all honesty, you may get excited when you see come up; however, you have to take that with a grain of salt, because that is a website that gets a lot of its support from online users which in turn add their definitions and/or information on a subject.

Just look carefully, and you'll find some links that will set you on your way. Write them down in case you ever need to go back and reference them or just want to read them at a later date. Most Internet software programs have search engines readily available. If you look in the upper left corner of the toolbar you will see any of the following: a STAR with a PLUS SIGN on it or "favorites" and if you find a website you like, then click on either of those and bookmark it for yourself.

Although I'm not sure why, it seems to me that some search engines more than others have more information, so you kind of have to find some that suit you best. Don't let the wide variety of sites with information slow you down. As I suggested, just find the ones you prefer for the study at the moment. 

There are plenty of University websites that list libraries of Internet resources as well. If you are looking up information on say, a medical condition, I will recommend nonetheless, there are others.

The main thing I wanted to do here was get you all started with the basics of online research techniques.

When using the computer I want to end with a piece of advice my computer instructor in college gave me; "Make the computer work for you. You don't work for the computer." It's true! Don't be intimidated and no, it will not blow up.     

Take your time, get comfortable and have fun. When you've had enough, bookmark your site and rest. Don't wear yourself out over it. The information that is archived on a computer can overwhelm you so just walk away and leave it for a while. Then when you've rested, go back and try again.

Happy surfing!


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