Public Policy Analyst
Conducting an Internet Search
The Internet is a very valuable tool for public policy analysts. To use it effectively, you need to develop your skills in doing searches. Once you agree on the social problem topic and the geographic location, an Internet search will help you define the specific problem. It will also help you with research throughout the entire PPA process.
Searching the Net is not the same as surfing the Net. Surfing the Net is similar to browsing through a store. When the clerk asks if you need any help, you say that you are just looking. Other times, you go into a store to searching for a specific CD to buy. You need to be able to provide the clerk with specific information such as the title of the CD, the name of the group, or at least the specific type of music. When you search the Net, you use a search engine such as Alta Vista, Lycos, Yahoo or MSN. There are also Meta-Search Engines which combine searches of several different search engines. Google, MetaCrawler, and AllTheWeb are examples of Meta-Search Engines
Suppose that you began with the general problem of crime in New York City. Then, several group members expressed an interest in hate crimes involving religion. If you type key words in the search box such as + “hate crimes” + “New York City” + “religion” you will obtain numerous articles and data about the problem. You can bookmark the page and return to it throughout the PPA process.
Search guidelines, such as uses of + and – signs and quotation marks can be found on sites such as the following: