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Search broad and a variety.  No, not search a variety of broads, that’s what my brother-in-law would like to do.  I mean, when you begin a search for information, start with a broad-based search strategy utilizing terms relating to your overarching topic and including a variety of search methods.  So much of the Internet allows us to detail a search with many specific words and zero in on one answer, but you lose something along the search journey by doing that.  Plus, you’re at the mercy of the search engine (or whatever means you used) to zero in on the right information.

When you begin a search looking for a broader topic, it is easier to assess authoritative sources, thus finding more authoritative information.  Additionally, searching widely and then narrowing your focus is easier than maneuvering from a narrow search to a broader one.  If you’ve found an answer right away that you think is correct, you are less likely to want to continue searching.  By practicing good broad-based search strategies, you will be able to pick up on relevant information and, I’m willing to bet, on unexpected valuable information along the way.  You may come upon the same answer as you would have doing a direct, specific search, but you’ve gained additional knowledge in the process.  You are a better informed searcher for it.

Don’t know how to broaden your search?  Think of a library.  It is organized using a system of letters and numbers.  Everything is placed in a category and specific letters and numbers point to specific items.  If you know your overall category, you can browse relevant sections thoughtfully.  Reference, non-fiction, periodicals…they all have a place in a library and online.

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