Research Tools for Regular Folks

ToolboxHappily, there are plenty of useful tools for searching, offloading, and managing information when you’re using computers and the Web for research.  Your tools of choice should depend on:

  • what you want to do with the information,
  • your comfort level with computers,
  • the software you’re using,
  • your computing environment (Mac, Windows, home, work, etc.),
  • and what will make your life easier.


Make some choices, take charge of your education, and add some rigorous curiosity to your voyages on the Web.

As mentioned in my earlier research and research methods posts, if you set your mind to it, cultivate useful habits, and have a plan, you can move through the chaos of information overload and into clarity–thanks to your self-education efforts.

Useful Research Tools
The following tools are super helpful for beginning and advanced users alike. I’ve linked to explanatory pages below to help you get started quickly and keep an eye on the big picture.

Search Engines are essential tools for your Web travels. Don’t forget that when you’re searching it also helps to use the best tool for the task. If you run a search on anything you care about, you’ll likely learn a lot by repeating it on different search engines.

I’m a fan of comparing results on Wolfram Alpha (best for the facts Ma’am) Google (my all around fav) and Bing (because it’s new and for the images, video, and category listings).

Want more?  Checkout the links below (in no particular order) and discover some of the many other search engines out there. Some target particular fields of study or professions–and like anything else on the Web some may have gone the way of the dodo.

Want to learn which search engine to use? Phil Bradley’s blog is out there “making the net easier” and About.com’s search pointers and descriptive list of search engines help a lot.

There are many lists of search engines for you to explore, check out these lists compiled to meet your searching needs from:

Want to search many engines at once? Look for meta search engines– Pandia Power Search and Dogpile will get you started.

I also like Loaded Web for a geo-centric directory of blogs, businesses and people who use twitter.

And do let us know about search engines you love, hate, or love to hate.

Happy searching to you!