search challenge

Find it

Speculative Searching

Three of the five major obstacles most searchers encounter all have to do with speculation:

What am I looking for?

If you don't know what you are looking for, don't count on finding it. You stand a much better chance if you can identify several keywords that focus the question. Keywords are the biggest step for turning a question into a query. Search engines use queries to retrieve information from a database. If you can condense your search into a few good keywords, you can make good use of a search engine. For an easy search, finding the right keywords is typically not an issue. The problem arises when you have a question that is complicated, such as the typical research assignment. Then you must know strategies to find better keywords along the way, because the odds are against you that you will think of the right words to start with.

Where will I find it?

You may have one search engine you turn to for just about everything. Whether it's Google, Yahoo, Bing, Duck Duck Go or another popular choice, a single search engine is limited to the contents of its database. For research-type topics, specialized search engines have high quality, relevant resources. This is also true when it comes to investigative searching: looking up information on a publisher information or an archived version of a Web page. There are many places to look; you need to be able to learn how to use unfamiliar search engines.

How will I get there?

After the choice of which search engine to use--or if you need a search engine at all--comes the challenge of homing in on the information you need. There isn't a map to tell you if you are on the right track or getting close. You can only tell this by picking up clues in the information found along the way. This step involves looking at results and finding better keywords, browsing effectively and reading results to see if they are relevant.

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