How to Conduct Excellent Online Research virtual assistant hire philippines va flix vaflix VA FLIX

How to Conduct Excellent Online Research: Methods, Resources, and More.

If there is one constant in contemporary life, it is research. The majority of us are required to undertake extensive web research for a number of objectives, regardless of the subject. When we want to purchase anything, we do product and choice research. In order to sell a product, we do market and competitive research. We explore themes and exes when we want to get knowledge or information. It is difficult to conceive of “online research” as a single activity since we do research on the internet for so many diverse reasons, yet many of us spend a significant amount of time conducting research on the internet. Therefore, there is significant benefit in learning how to do this study more fully, precisely, and rapidly.

The Online Research Process in 6 Steps

In general, a typical internet research study involves six major phases. Following these procedures will assist in guaranteeing that your internet research is complete, accurate, and valuable. You may not do all of them every time you conduct online research.

Let’s discuss these processes and why they are beneficial for almost any internet research you do.

1. Choose and define your topic of interest

In this initial phase, you will specify precisely what you are searching for. What is your ultimate aim? Why are you performing this investigation? What do you want to learn or accomplish?

In the context of market research, this may include gaining a comprehensive grasp of the rivals in the area and their posture. For product research, you may be attempting to determine the optimal purchase choice.

The key is to create a complete list of the research questions you want to answer and the specific topics that pique your interest. This list will assist you in determining where and how to conduct your research in order to avoid accumulating irrelevant or uninteresting data.

2. Determine which fields of study you’ll need to look into

This stage will assist you in defining and narrowing the types of journals, databases, websites, etc. from which you will get information.

For instance, if you’re doing product research and want to discover how beneficial current consumers find a certain product, you may consult popular third-party review websites. If you are doing medical research, you may peruse the relevant medical periodicals for your subject.

3. See what research has been done and what conclusions have been drawn.

The third step of the process is arguably the one most often associated with “research.” Now is the time to go into your research sources, study up on the issue, and see how others have addressed the research questions you posed.

This phase requires that you remain organized and on-task. It’s easy to become lost in all the information, so it’s better to have a clear method and organize your sources and learning.

4. Evaluate your sources and information

In the digital age, this stage is more vital than the others. Regardless of the subject of your research, you must take the time to comprehend and assess your sources. Who is writing on the subject? Why are they involved or interested? Do they stand to gain anything from their statements?

This stage allows you to recognize any biases you or your sources may have. Consider these biases as research gaps, and fill them with competing opinions and new data.

5. Determine additional research data collection methods needed and conduct

It is fairly commonplace to identify gaps in previously conducted research, whether due to biases or anything else. When this occurs, you might consider undertaking your own primary research to fill in the gaps in your data.

If you lack qualitative market research, for instance, you may decide to organize an online focus group of people in that market. To fill up the gaps in medical research, it may be necessary to perform substantial clinical trials. For research on your own consumers, though, it may be sufficient to send out a small online survey requesting comments. In addition, you may leverage online survey platforms to reach a larger audience.

6. Organize your full body of research and draw conclusions

Once steps 1 through 5 have been completed, you are ready to delve into your study and form conclusions. Here, for instance, you will make a final choice on which product to purchase or choose where in the market to place your own firm.

Online Research Methods and Strategies

When you think of “internet research,” what kind of study methodology comes to mind? Many of us undoubtedly consider doing internet research by Googling and reading articles. However, it is by no means unique.

Below is a list of more frequent internet resources for research methodologies and tactics that you might use throughout your study.

Content analysis and analysis of social media and social networks.

Analysis of content is the most common research technique, including online searches and reading. You are consuming and gaining knowledge from secondary research that has already been completed.

Focus groups

A focus group is when a group of individuals participate in a guided conversation, often about their experience with a certain product, brand, political campaign, advertisement, or television/movie program. You may see this taking place in-person, but it may also occur online using video chat or conferencing software.


Interviews are comparable to focus groups in that particular questions are posed to actual people. Typically, interviews are conducted one-on-one as opposed to in groups. A question-and-answer format that is less conversational and more transactional may also be used in interviews.

Questionnaires and surveys

Questionnaires and surveys have the same question-and-answer format as interviews, although they are often not conducted live or in real time. Respondents may get surveys by email, postal mail, or social media. The responder completes and returns the questionnaire at their own time.

Web-based experiments

Experiments conducted on the Internet adhere to a more structured and conventional set of procedures meant to provide scientifically important findings. There are three main kinds of experiments:

  • Controlled experiments
  • Natural experiments
  • Field experiments

Regardless of the subject, many of these experiments may be modified to be conducted online.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are the most common sort of experiment used in medical and psychological research. The experiment in a clinical trial is intended to answer a very particular set of questions. A prototypical clinical trial is a medication or pharmaceutical study that is meant to determine if a particular medicine affects a particular illness or condition.

Online ethnography 

Clinical trials are the most common sort of experiment used in medical and psychological research. The experiment in a clinical trial is intended to answer a very particular set of questions. A prototypical clinical trial is a medication or pharmaceutical study that is meant to determine if a particular medicine affects a particular illness or condition.

Common Types of Online Research

Online research occurs in a variety of ways, yet discussing “research” in the abstract might seem vague. To assist you understand the kind of internet research we’re referring to for our purposes, we’ve included some of the more popular categories.

Basic Research

Basic research refers to investigations and experiments conducted not to answer a particular issue or to establish a concept but to provide the groundwork for future studies and experiments.

A study on the effects of coffee on the brain, for instance, would be called basic research. Its outcomes would expand public awareness of the subject and presumably stimulate more specialized research.

Here is another example of fundamental research, which often overlaps with applied research:

  • EXAMPLE: via Verywell Mind
  • RESEARCH: To begin, “researchers might do fundamental research on the academic, emotional, and social effects of stress on pupils.” This may comprise a content analysis of previous studies on the issue, empirical research on students’ emotions and performance, as well as interviews or surveys conducted with the students themselves.
  • FINDINGS: At the conclusion of fundamental research, researchers have a greater grasp of how stress affects pupils, but they do not know why stress has these effects or how to mitigate them.
  • CONCLUSIONS: As a consequence, “the outcomes of these theoretical investigations may lead to more research aimed at solving particular issues.” Initially, researchers may discover that students with elevated stress levels are more likely to drop out of college before graduation. Therefore, scientists may develop studies to identify which therapies would be most effective in reducing these stress levels. These works would serve as examples of “”practical research”

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is the study of anything using statistical or mathematical methods, and it is used to determine the frequency of a phenomenon. The term “quantitative” in this context merely refers to numbers.

This is a typical illustration of quantitative research in action:

  • EXAMPLE: via QuestionPro
  • RESEARCH: “If a company wants to perform a customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey, it may utilize a customer satisfaction survey template. Net promoter score (NPS) questions, matrix table questions, etc., may be used to gather information.
  • FINDINGS: The aforementioned survey approach yields “numerical data that may be evaluated and used.”
  • CONCLUSIONS: Through this survey, a business may gather quantitative data and metrics on the goodwill of the brand or organization in the consumer’s opinion, depending on numerous aspects like product quality, price, customer experience, etc.

Qualitative Research

In contrast, qualitative research focuses more on observations and non-numerical aspects. It is used to address concerns about how and why occurrences occur, as opposed to their frequency.

Here is an example of a typical qualitative research study:

  • EXAMPLE: via QuestionPro
  • RESEARCH: “A bookshop owner searching for strategies to increase sales and customer engagement.” An online community of the bookstore’s most devoted customers was surveyed and given pertinent questions, to which they provided responses.
  • FINDINGS: “At the conclusion of the interview, it became apparent that the majority of books in shops were acceptable for adults and that there were insufficient selections for children and teens.”
  • CONCLUSIONS: “By doing this qualitative research, the owner of the bookstore found out what was wrong and how the readers felt. Because of this research, the owner of the bookstore can now keep books for different age groups. This will help him improve his sales and reach more people.”

Research and Competitive Research

Market research and competitive research are ways to gather information about an industry and the companies that do business in it. It usually involves figuring out where competing companies or products fit into the market, which is usually done by companies in the market (or those hoping to be).

Usually, a market research study looks like this:

  • EXAMPLE: a software company wants to sell a new product in a market it doesn’t know much about.
  • RESEARCH: They do research to find out what features their product will need, what price will be competitive, and where in the market there is a chance to serve a group of consumers who aren’t being served well enough. Basic research about competitors, their products, and their prices, content analysis of industry publications, and focus groups with potential customers are all part of the research process.
  • FINDINGS: The company finds that a small but dedicated group of customers in the market have a specific need that isn’t being met by any of the current competitors in the space.
  • CONCLUSIONS: They make their product to solve that specific problem, and they market and advertise it to only that small niche market.

Customer Research

When a business does customer research, they try to find out more about their customers or the customers of their competitors. Research on customers and consumers is often part of the market research process we talked about above.

Here’s how a typical study on customer research looks:

  • EXAMPLE: via Hotjar
  • RESEARCH: A software company wanted to find out more about what their customers wanted from their software and how they could make a better product and customer experience. They found out more about their customers by asking them questions on their website and by watching them.
  • FINDINGS: Based on their research, the company created detailed customer personas that showed who their three most common customers are and what problems they face.
  • CONCLUSIONS: Based on what the company found out about the problems one group of customers had, they changed one part of the product to make the customer’s experience better.

Other Common Types of Research

  • Comparative research, Studies that compare the same set of data from different places or cultures are called comparative studies. They are mostly done in the social sciences. For example, a study might look at how poverty is different in the United States and Canada.
  • Medical research can cover a wide range of studies and experiments. The most obvious example is clinical drug trials, which are done to find out how well and how safe new medicines work. But observational studies and other basic research can also be used in medical research to learn more about new diseases.
  • Legal research most typically refers to two scenarios: 1) finding an answer to a legal question or making a legal decision, and 2) looking for a case that backs up a legal argument.
  • Product research refers to the research that companies do to learn more about what their customers want. It can be done during the ideation or development stages of a new product or to make an existing product even better.
  • Empirical research data is collected by observation. In other words, it’s a record of what someone saw, heard, touched, tasted, and smelled. For example, a test to see if listening to happy music makes people feel better would be an example of empirical research.
  • Descriptive research is done with the intention of better understanding something. Customer and consumer research is often done by describing the customers and what they are like instead of trying to explain them or measure them.
  • Experimental research refers to a more rigid research process than many of the other research types listed here. When researchers do experiential research, they use a research method. They do experiments where only one variable is changed and the results either prove or disprove a certain hypothesis.
  • Exploratory research is similar to basic research. It is done to learn more about a problem or event, and its results are often used to help solve the problem through further research.

Tips for Better, Faster Online Research

No matter how long you’ve been doing research online or how new you are to it, there are always tips and tricks you can use to speed up, improve, and refocus your research. In light of this, here are our best tips for doing good research online.

Know the Information You’re Looking For

There is so much information on the internet that it’s easy to get lost. You might find yourself going down rabbit holes or trying to answer new questions as they come up. In either case, you stop thinking about the questions you set out to answer.

That’s why it’s so important to know what those questions are and force yourself to find answers to them. This is what steps 1 and 2 of our process for doing online research are meant to help with.

Get Clear About Your Goal for Researching

Setting a goal for your research is similar to the last tip, but it is more action-oriented. What will you do with the answers to the above questions when you get them? All of the questions you want to find answers to with your online research should help you make a decision or choose your next step.

For example, you might want to find and book a place for your next family vacation. Your goal for competitive research might be to find a small group of people within your industry to focus on.

Check the Abstract First

When you use scientific papers, medical studies, legal reviews, and other academic research, you know you’re in for some dense, long reading. So, before you decide to read something, read the summary first. If the abstract doesn’t tell you anything interesting, you can skip that paper.

Have a System and Stay Organized

We’ve already talked about how the Internet changes everything when it comes to research. You can pretty much do as much research as you want. That’s why it’s important to make a plan for what information you’ll look at, how you’ll store it, and where you’ll keep it. Here are some tips on how to stay organized:

  • Create Google Drive folders to store PDFs and other documents
  • Create a designated folder in your bookmarks to store websites and URLs
  • Use a reference management software (like Mendeley) designed to help organize extensive research
  • Delegate the organizing part to a virtual assistant (VA)

Avoid Analysis Paralysis

Online research can be a great way to learn more about a wide range of topics and make better decisions. However, it is possible to do too much research and end up with way more information than you can handle. The only way to make sure your research makes your life easier instead of harder is to avoid analysis paralysis.

To avoid analysis paralysis, you should first write down your goals and the questions you want to answer. The second part is knowing when you have enough information to make a decision. When that happens, it’s usually time to stop researching and start doing something.

Evaluate Your Sources and Check Your Own Biases

In this day and age of #fakenews and science funded by corporations, it’s more important than ever to check the sources of your online research. Start by making it a habit to look at who did the research, wrote the paper, or wrote the article.

From there, you can find out more about how objective they are (or lack thereof). Ask yourself if the researcher has anything to gain or lose by giving you the information. Are they putting their own spin on objective information? Just as important is how up-to-date the information is.

Along with figuring out how objective your sources are, it’s even more important to figure out and be aware of your own biases about the topic.

Delegate Research to a Virtual Assistant

There are many reasons to let someone else do your online research, like if you don’t have the time, the skills, or even the desire to do it yourself. In particular, online research is easy for a virtual assistant to handle.

Research Tools and Resources to Help with Your Online Research

When it’s time to do online research, most of us start with a Google search, then try different search terms and look through a lot of search results. That’s a good place to start, but there are also a lot of other reliable databases and search engines that can help you find the most accurate and up-to-date research on just about any topic.

Below, we list 13 tools that can help you find credible sources, organize your research, and even do your own primary research.

Other Great Online Resources for Research

Here are a few more excellent resources you can use if you want to learn more about different aspects of online research.

  • For psychological, sociological, and other behavioral research:
  • For business (market, competitive, and new product) research: QuestionPro
  • For market research: Inc.
  • To better understand online research and “big data:” Online Research Methods, Quantitative by Hocevar and Flanagin
  • On conducting your own survey research: SurveyMonkey
  • For legal, news, and public records: LexisNexis online library

Delegating Research to a Virtual Assistant

With the above tips and tools, anyone can become an expert online researcher. But do you have the time or desire to do your own online research? Effective internet research always takes a lot of time, no matter how well it is done. There’s no way around the fact that it takes time to do useful research online.

Instead of taking time out of your busy schedule to do online research, you could hire a virtual assistant to do it for you (VA). So, you can make decisions based on good information without having to spend days or even weeks reading abstracts and research articles.

When you work with a virtual research assistant from VA FLIX:

  • You can hand-off basic research, competitor and market research, comparative research and more from day one
  • You can work with your VA and train them to handle more specialized types of research, like medical and legal

In both cases, as your VA works with you more and more, they’ll get better and better at finding the exact research and insights you need. Some things they can do in their research are:

  • Pulling together research articles and data
  • Data entry
  • Research annotations and summaries
  • Research management and organization
  • Various aspects of conducting primary research

How does this work?

We know that outsourcing something as broad and vague as “research” might feel strange if you’ve never done it before. Most of the worries we hear from people are quickly put to rest by the fact that delegating their research saves them time.

So, if you’re still not sure, here are a few of the most common questions we get:

How does all this work?

You can use your VA FLIX VA whenever you need to. They can find research articles and sources, organize and annotate them, present research summaries and conclusions, and help with many of the tasks involved in doing your own primary research.

What kind of research can a VA FLIX VA handle?

VA FLIX VAs can handle this type of research right off the bat:

  • Basic research
  • Market research
  • Competitive research
  • Comparative research
  • Data research
  • Information research

That said, with a little guidance and training from you, our VAs can take over just about any kind of research you need done.

How will my VA know what information to look for?

At first, your VA will make this decision based on what you tell them. They will put together any information you ask for. They can handle most of what you need for basic research.

In the beginning, your VA may need a little more help from you with research in more specialized fields, like medicine and law. You can be sure that after a few projects, they will be able to handle almost anything you throw at them.

Can my VA handle the next steps after the research is done?

If you give your VA FLIX VA the access and information they need to take the next step, they can. This could be booking a trip based on research, buying a product they suggested, or something else entirely.

How will my VA communicate with me?

Your VA FLIX VA will talk to you in whatever way you like. Whether you choose to talk via Slack, email, phone, or mores code, your virtual assistant will work with your preferences to make communication easier.

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