Writing Across the Social Sciences

Using Google (and other search engines) for Research

In this section I'm going to provide a method for finding interesting topics to write about that has been effective for me for several years of college...using Google (or any other search engines)!

Let's say you want to do some research on communication between men and women. You are in trouble:

  • There are whole books written on this topic, let alone a paper!
  • You don't have a question yet so how are you going to find information to answer it?

Here are the steps that I take:

  1. Check out related research that is listed in your book. This puts you in touch with some research that has been done and also introduces you to specific terms that might be used by those who study this topic
    • terms that are going to be important for your "communication bewteen men and women" topic include:
      • gender
      • communication
      • gender differences
      • interpersonal
      • communication styles
      • interepersonal relationships
  2. Now that you have some of the terms that you need to use to get to this topic, you can use Google!
    • Google is a great search engine and it is a great place to START your search but it is only a start...ultimately you have to get to the real "Peer Reviewed Research" (see below)
    • Place your search terms into Google in quotes so that you get hits that include the entire phrase.
      • I tried this one "communication styles between the genders"
      • I got over 5 million hits, but I don't need all of them!
    • Once you have a list of hits, start going through them and see if you can locate the NAMES of the researchers who are doing this kind of work
      • My search revealed, on just the first page, the following researchers:
        • Deborah Tannen
        • John Gray
        • Beverly Langford
        • Debra Warner
        • Rhonda Kelley
      • I also got some interesting ideas for where I might want to go with this
        • Communication between men and women in the context of a Christian community
        • Gender communication and emotional discomfort
        • Gender styles and trust
  3. Now that you have some names and some potential topics...you need to go find out what these leading researchers are doing NOW...you can also look up some of the specific topics and ideas you got...so where do you go to find out what these folks are doing NOW?
    • You need to explore the actual articles listed in the back of your textbook
    • You need to familiarize yourself with the online databases at KVCC


Evaluating Your Sources
Use this checklist to be sure that your sources are reliable and academic.

Evaluating Web Pages
As you are searching through your Google results you can apply these principles to evaluating each of those websites.