Hacks for smart online research

Faye Turner

8 min Read Time | August 9th 2021

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Do you have a rough idea of which company and topic you want to analyse? Or not really?

Either way, doing research in a smart, focused way is essential to get the best results, save time, and find reliable sources for an outstanding analysis.

The list is certainly not complete, we encourage you to add your own recommendations in the comments section.

Enjoy the read!

Hack 1: Conduct research in a private window

This will reduce tracking and cookies that may distort the results.

Hack 2: Search for different associations between your company and a topic

For instance, you can try typing :

  • SONY “water pollution”
  • SONY “electronic waste”
  • SONY “scandals”
  • SONY “negative environmental footprint”
  • SONY “empowerment”
  • SONY “women’s rights”
  • SONY “energy consumption sustainable”

It is recommended to search both in the standard search engine (e.g. Ecosia) and in the dedicated news section (e.g. Google News)

Hack 3: Use operators when typing your query to get more precise results

Operators are formulas like “OR”, “AND” or “-” which allow you to get more specific results from your query.

Let’s now look at what each of these operators do.

OR will help you search for one term or the other. For example, if you are interested in LGBTQ+ rights at Amazon, you can type:

“Amazon” (LGBTQ+ OR diversity OR transgender rights OR inclusive)

AND is useful if you really want to search for two terms, that must not be separated. For example, if you are searching for the actions of Baidu on wildlife in 2020, you can type:

“Baidu” AND wildlife AND 2020

“quotations marks” allow you to ensure that the results contain information directly related to the word written in between the quotation marks. For instance, if you want to search for the Amazon forest and you want to limit articles about the company, you should type:

Amazon “forest”

(parentheses) can be used to group some terms together for more advanced queries. For instance, if you want to search for articles about H&M’s impact on water, soil or air pollution, you can write:

H&M AND (“Water pollution” OR “soil pollution” OR “Air pollution”)

Hyphens ( - ) are very useful when you are trying to exclude certain terms from your results. For example, if you would like to learn about Chipotle’s social impact that are not from the company’s website, you can write:

Chipotle social issues -chipotle.com

You can try it yourself, you will see that no results will come from their official website.

Hack 4: Do not only rely on Google or other search engines

In addition to searching for your topic on Google and Google news (or equivalents), you should also look for information directly on other reliable websites.


  • The Guardian: a very popular media website with many articles and investigative pieces on social and environmental issues or on companies’ responsibility.
  • The Conversation: an independent, high-quality source of news that combines journalism with academic rigour.
  • Bloomberg: a very complete portal for business statistics and company-focused articles
  • Forbes: business-focused media, with some interesting pieces on economic issues, innovation, and corporate social responsibility. It also features country and region-specific section.

For more examples of recommended sources, you can check our toolkit of useful sources.

Hack 5: Use articles from varied sources

Relying only on one source increases the risk of missing the big picture.

It is important to have at least 3 main sources of information to construct a robust and objective analysis.


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