A Handy Tip To Help Find Useful Online Information


Whatever you want, or need, to know about, the internet is probably your best place to start hunting for information.  But while many people will try to advise you on what are the best search terms to type into Google or Bing, there's actually more to effective online searching than merely coming up with a good set of keywords.

For example, it's often useful to consider what type of information you want returned.  If you want to know about, say, household security or the Battle of Hastings, don't just search for those terms.  Add qualifiers in order to try to find authoritative, reliable information.  My favourite such qualifier at the moment is "conference presentation" or "conference proceedings".  Chances are, you'll find the information you're looking for in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, prepared by someone who knows what they're talking about and made available free of charge.

As another example, you may know that I'm involved with Microsoft SharePoint in my day job.  A couple of months ago, a major SharePoint conference took place in Barcelona, Spain.  Registering to attend the conference would have cost around $1000.  But all of the presentations can now be downloaded free of charge from http://www.sharepointeurope.com/community/member/presentation-archive by anyone who's interested.

So here's my top tip for the week.  When you need the low-down on something, and you need it to be accurate, by specific about the type of information you're looking for.  General web pages and blog posts are good, but conference presentations are often better.



Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
Average: 3.9 (38 votes)


Charlie - thanks for sharing this!

As long as your recognize that proceedings and conferences are not peer reviewed and should not carry the same weight as an article in a peer reviewed publication.

One thing I did learn from grad school when I got my MA: In many cases peer-review means that you must agree with the philosophy of the editorial board, or you won't get published. In many many cases this means that top-notch scholarly research with valid conclusions goes wanting. Peer-review can be indeed helpful, but you'd better understand the bias of those who sit on the editorial board. Many make the error in presuming that peer-review equals objective evaluation. Often, it is anything but.

My own impression of your post is that you do not discount presentations that are not peer-reviewed, but you feel that we should be suspicious of such publications. I would disagree - Take the presentation or paper on it's own merits and investigate on your own. Just because it's peer-reviewed, in many cases, means little. I have no ax to grind because I have never been published or turned down by various peer-review pubs. I have not tried nor do I care to be published in my field (counseling).

That's my 2 cents worth. Don't want to start a major debate or argument, just expressing my opinion...

Yes, I agree-- the limitations of the peer review process are all too prevalent in so-called 'prestigious'and objective medical journals where the editorial boards are heavily influenced and populated by employees of pharmaceutical companies. Any new or contradictory information that's not in the financial interests of Pharmaco is usually ignored, refuted or actively attacked.

I SECOND THAT MOTION - most emphatically!