Documentary research from OpenClassrooms on Vimeo.

This methodological sheet is offered by Sciences Po, associated with OpenClassrooms, to support high school students towards the bac and higher studies. We are gradually publishing nine e-method sheets designed by high school and Sciences Po teachers: write a dissertation, a text commentary, take notes, read a map, do a search on the Internet, organize your time during an exam or a competition…

Introduction

You understood the Internet is a huge research space where you can find everything and nothing at the same time! It will mostly depend on your research. Do you know exactly what you are looking for? Are you using the right keywords? Do you know the right techniques? Do you know how to select the information? Do you sort through what you find?

Doing documentary research on the Internet is:

  1. Know how to look for information.
  2. Validate the credibility of the information found.
  3. Have a responsible attitude when using this data.

Looking for instructions? Here we go!

Find information

Do you know? Yes, it is the best known and most used search engine in the world: Google. There are plenty of others (Yahoo Search, See, Bing), but let’s take this one!

Contrary to what some people think, it is not enough to type the question, word or idea that you are asked to seek. If you are asked, for example, ”  What are the impacts of global warming on our environment and our health?” “ You type what?

If you type “global warming”, you will have 654,000 results! Google, in this case, searches for all pages, images, videos … containing these words, individually, “global warming”, “climate”, but also together “global warming”.

I’m going to have to look at all these pages? How to refine the answers?

Step 1: Brainstorm the question.

Ask yourself the six basic questions: 3QOCP? (Who? What? When? Where? How? Why?). This will allow you to find new keywords.

  • Research: global warming in France.

Google results: 1,920,000 results.

  • Research: global warming + France (impact on environment and health).

Google results: 1,650,000 results.

  • Research: global warming (or environmental and health impact) in France.

Google results in 737,000 results.

  • Research: (climate change) or environmental and health impact in France.

Google results in 966,000 results.

  • Research: (climate change in France) or environmental and health impact.

Google results in 483,000 results.

Etc.

Look again at the previous formulations. Do you notice anything?

Step 2: use search operators

What?

Yes, in the previous formulations, you must have noticed the parentheses (), the words and / or / or, the signs +/-…

These typographic signs are used to refine your search according to your needs. There are many and they vary depending on the search engine!

To reduce the number of results, you therefore need:

  • Select the keywords.
  • Write the possible search formula that you would type on Google.
  • “No answer matches your criteria” and you want more results? It will then be necessary to delete words, operators or find synonyms!

Validate information

Thanks to the Internet, everyone can search but also put information on the Internet. It is therefore up to you to know how to recognize information given by an individual, a professional, or by an official body, and to judge the credibility of the data.

In summary, we can validate the source by checking one of the following four points:

  • Who is the author? A particular? A professional? An organism?
  • What is the purpose of the site? Sell ​​? Inform?
  • What is the type of the site? Staff? Blog?
  • How is the content presented? How is the architecture of the site? Is the content updated? What is the language register (formal, familiar, etc.)? Are there spelling errors?

Final exercise

After having seen all the elements necessary to search and validate your sources on the Internet, I suggest that you perform the following search:

“What are the different sources of renewable energy in France? And what are their impacts on the environment? “

  1. Underline the keywords of this problem.
  2. Write down the possible search formula that you would type on Google.
  3. Select a site and analyze it according to the following diagram:

Use the information found

Once the information is found, what do we do with it? It’s up to you to use them according to your needs! Be careful however, it is not because it is on the Internet that you should not respect the work of authors taking into account intellectual property and image rights.

Copyright and intellectual property, Kazuko?

It is about respecting the work of an author by citing the source (the website) and the name of the author. For example, if you use a quote found on the OpenClassrooms site, you will need to:

  • Name the site with the date (indeed, on the Internet, information can disappear very quickly!).
  • Name the author, if specified.
  • Put the quotation in quotation marks.

For example Openclassrooms.com (date). “HTML (HyperText Markup Language): it first appeared in 1991 when the Web was launched. Its role is to manage and organize the content. It is therefore in HTML that you will write what must be displayed on the page: text, links, images… ”, by Mathieu Nebra.

What about image rights, Kazuko?

It’s the same, even if an image or a photograph appears on the Internet, it is the property of someone. So you can’t use it in your homework without citing your sources, and sometimes you even have to ask the author for permission to use it.

For example :

I, therefore, advise you to go directly to sites where the images are free of rights or to sites that allow you to use their images (with Creative Commons licenses or licenses specific to the site in question).

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