Skip to main content

Introduction to Mastering Online Research

Read the Introduction to Mastering Online Research.

I’m glad I live in the age of the internet. I’ve become so accustomed to researching any and every subject that I no longer can imagine my life without it. I pursue serious and frivolous research on the Web, I shop, I look up addresses and phone numbers and old friends. I keep up with news and with history. I’m convinced that internet access saved my mother’s life, because I was able to look up her atypical symptoms of a heart attack on a medical website and rush her to the emergency room. The World Wide Web was the greatest advance of the twentieth century, and it keeps on improving.

Image placeholder title

Writing this book gives me an opportunity to share the techniques and tips that I’ve learned over many years of working on the internet, running thousands of searches and analyzing websites, search results, and hyperlinks. Much of what I learned as far back as ten years ago still applies, but everything runs faster and better now. It’s a great time for you to learn how to navigate the world of cyberspace.

This book will help you to master the skills and shortcuts of online research so your searches will be satisfying and the challenges enjoyable. You’ll learn to love the thrill of the chase after pieces of information that somebody out there knows and you don’t.

If you’ve never done much more than enter a search word or two in the Google or Yahoo! search box, you’re in for a treat. You can find just about anything out there with the right search tools. And you’ll learn practical methods to evaluate the websites you find for reliability, timeliness, relevance to your search, and other parameters.

In the New York Times on November 6, 2006, an article by Tom Zeller Jr. appeared concerning the internet pranksters who manipulated search results on the major search engine websites just prior to the U.S. election, in order to bring up certain politicians’ websites when users searched for words such as “miserable failure.” The use of the internet for political campaigning was a new phenomenon at the levels it reached at that time. But what was shocking to me was the report that ordinary internet users remain incredibly naïve about the results from search engines. “Numerous studies have shown that precious few sleuths go beyond the first page of search results. ‘If it’s not on the first page, it might as well be invisible,’” the newspaper quoted Danny Sullivan, editor of the online Search Engine Watch, as saying.

The article went on to state that the Nielsen Norman Group, which surveys internet behavior, found in 2005 that fewer than 1 percent of searchers used advanced search options. Even scarier was the statistic from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that “only 38 percent of searchers were aware of a distinction between paid and unpaid results among search returns.”

Once you’ve delved into this book and practiced your skills online, you’ll be part of that intelligent, sophisticated, and effective 1 percent of internet searchers. Welcome!

Find out more about Mastering Online Research.

How to Write a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

How to Create a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

Learn how to create a compelling premise for a thriller or mystery novel by asking a simple question and tying it to a specific circumstance to set the stage for a thrilling read.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters make a plan.

3 Tips for Writing Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

3 Tips for Writing Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

If you've ever heard it said that there's no new way to write a story, let author Julian R. Vaca tell you otherwise. Here, he shares 3 tips for writing dystopian young adult fiction to help silence our inner critics.

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Author Rimma Onoseta discusses how seeing other Black female authors on bookshelves encouraged her to finish writing her contemporary YA novel, How You Grow Wings.

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover Reveal

Writer's Digest is excited to announce our Sept/Oct 2022 issue featuring our Annual Literary Agent Roundup, an interview with NYT-bestselling YA horror novelist Tiffany D. Jackson, and articles about writing sinister stories.

Your Story #120

Your Story #120

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

Author Sarah Grunder Ruiz shares how she fits writing into her life and offers 5 tips on how to achieve a sustainable writing life as a parent.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 621

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an animal poem.

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Not sure which way to turn when writing intimate scenes? Author Jo McNally shares how to write compelling love scenes that make sense for the story you’re writing.