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Finding Information on the Internet

by Pearson Education Development Group

What's the Question?

Have you ever searched through information to find an answer to a question? Most likely you have. So, you're already familiar with doing research. All research begins with a question. When you do research, you look for information to help answer your question.

A few handy tips can simplify research on the Web and make it more rewarding. The Web is a valuable source of information on almost any subject. But there's so much information there that it's wise to consider carefully what you're looking for before you begin.

Narrow Your Question

First, check to make sure you're asking the "right" question. It's crucial to make sure you've narrowed the focus of your question. Otherwise, the scope of your research may be so broad that you'll spend too much time looking for answers. You could also end up with too much information about your topic. For example, would you want to wade through information about all the bridges in America or just the Golden Gate? Of course, you'd rather research one bridge because you'd never get to rest if you had to research all the bridges in the whole country!

But Don't Make It Too Narrow

On the other hand, the focus of your question shouldn't be too narrow. If you have to write a report to present information you researched, you don't want to wind up with too little information. If you were researching the Golden Gate Bridge, for example, you wouldn't want to present only your finding about the length of the bridge. It would be much too short and uninteresting! (The report, that is; not the bridge!)

Three Steps to Asking Effective Web Questions

  1. Ask yourself what you already know about the topic you are researching.
  2. Then ask yourself what you'd like to learn more about. Imagine your teacher has asked you to research a topic related to the solar system. To narrow the topic, you could begin by recording what you already know about the solar system.
  3. Then it would be helpful to ask what you'd like to find out about the solar system. Maybe you'd like to learn more about the planet Jupiter.

Once you have a general idea of your topic, it's time to narrow your focus. You can use the Web to help. Try using a search engine to surf the Web for sites related to your topic. By scanning and skimming information on several sites, you'll get some ideas.

After visiting a few sites about Jupiter, you might decide to focus on Io, one of the planet's 16 moons. Ah ha! Now you can come up with a question that narrows the focus of your research, but isn't too narrow. For example your question might be "What is Jupiter's moon Io like?"

Try using the steps above to come up with a good question about the topic your teacher has assigned. Use the worksheet to help you.

What's the Question? Worksheet

Topic: __________________________________________

1. Some things I already know about this topic are:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

2. Some things I would like to learn more about this topic are:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

3. As I surf the web, here is some of the information I find interesting about the topic:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

My research question is:

________________________________________________




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