Research using the web

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Web search tips

In some cases, researching affiliations between people, groups and organizations is as simple as typing the names involved into the Google search box.

You can narrow down your search by enclosing names containing more than one word in inverted commas. For example, if you are researching links between Joe Bloggs and the company Toxic & Lethal Co., you'll find that typing

"joe bloggs" "toxic & lethal"

provides more useful hits than typing

joe bloggs toxic & lethal

because the latter will throw up results relating to all Joes, all Bloggses, and all mentions of the words "toxic" and "lethal". At the same time, it's often useful to omit words like "Co." from your search because the way this is written in your sources may change significantly. So some sources will favour Toxic & Lethal Company, while others will favour Toxic & Lethal Co., while others will omit the "Co." and "Company" part of the name altogether.

If one of the words, names or terms you are searching has an alternative meaning that you want to exclude from your search, you can do this by typing that meaning into the search box using a "-" sign. For example, you're searching for a politician called James Smith, but he has the same name as the lead singer in the rock band Filth. You can get rid of a huge amount of irrelevant sites if you use the minus sign, thus

"james smith" -filth -music -rock

For more Google search tips, see Google's Basic search help

Resources and useful links

Press and media databases

  • BugMeNot - lets you skip the registration process for many online news sites – although not those requesting paid subscriptions.
  • NewsMap - useful little site that tracks graphically what is making the headlines at any given time.
  • Mailinator - allows you to generate a free one-time only, incoming-only email address


Resources on lobbying/corporate power

Freedom of Information

Government offices, official sources

Departmental pages

Governmental publications/records

Web research

Web archive/Way back machine This search facility is useful if you have a dead weblink to an article or website, as it keeps an archive of old web addresses with their associated web pages or articles.

The New York Times Newsroom Navigator. This is the home page of all journalists on the NY Times

Powerbase guides and resources for research

How to find the owners of domain names

Corporate information