2. During the search: What did I find? How do I sift through information?

2.2. What happens if I do not find what I am looking for? Readjusting standards

2.2.1. Introduction

If the results of our search are not satisfactory –maybe we found too many results, which makes selection difficult, or else we did not obtain enough results, or the results we obtained do not suit our search goals− we should check the strategy we used and modify some of the search parameters.

If too many results were obtained, we should specify the search using more specific words or concepts. Or else, we should search for exact phrases using inverted commas, or use the fields available in advanced searches (they will be defined below). We should check the search criteria we defined in order to narrow them down and obtain less results.

Otherwise, if few results are obtained, we may assess and check the following:

  • Keywords defined were properly used, and no spelling mistakes were made. Such mistakes are more frequent when using a non-native language or when symbols are misplaced (15M or 15-M).
  • Assess whether the keywords chosen are the most appropriate ones for the search. When searching in an area we do not know much about, not using the most appropriate keyword to obtain the expected results is a frequent mistake.
  • The search may have been too specific and narrow because we used many filters. We should broaden concepts in order to obtain more results.
  • Make sure we used the appropriate search engine or tool.

A good information search process on the Internet takes its time. On many occasions, good results do not come up in the first search. Two or more searches are required and we need to modify the parameters we previously defined in order to finally obtain the expected results.

Apart from the standards for credibility assessment related to information sources, we may also apply several direct measures on contents in order to ensure they are reliable.

The easiest possible way involves trying to obtain the same information through two different search processes, using different search instruments and thus checking at least two different information sources. When contrasting them, the results of our search will be endorsed (or perhaps they will not).