April 2018

posted Apr 24, 2018, 1:24 PM by Frank Steele   [ updated May 13, 2018, 6:37 PM ]

Some interesting posts on research and fact-checking that I’ve come across in the last few months:

The Wayback Machine Browser Extension
Daniel Russell mentioned this in a post from March 9: If you do active online research, you fairly often run into web pages that are 404.  When this happens, it means that the link you're trying to follow leads to a page that is missing. You can use the Google cache operator to see the cached version of the page: cache:my-broken-url.html. And if that doesn’t work, try the browser extension for the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, available in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. I have the Chrome version installed, and it’s been useful.


Try This
Ren LaForme at Poynter.org has a weekly email newsletter called “Try This” featuring tips on technology for journalists, and they often contain helpful information for fact-checkers and researchers. The March 12 newsletter says that “Discourse Media, a Canadian independent news company, just released a spreadsheet full of databases for research and fact-checking. For each, Discourse notes what type of information is included, the region it’s useful for, handy tips and whether an account is required.”

On April 2: Happy International Fact-Checking Day! You should celebrate by learning from one of the best online investigation outlets in the world. Bellingcat has used tools and technology to file deep reports about big issues like Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and the Syrian civil war. And we have a cheat sheet featuring some of their most-used tools.

Research Using Google Sheets
An interesting ResearchBuzz post by Tara Calashain on Using a Google Sheet to Build Search Queries for Unknown Topics.” Looks like a very helpful tool:

Last week I got an e-mail from a reader named Joe asking for help researching a topic he didn’t know a lot about. Then at about the same time, I read about an add-on that would let you import Wikipedia data into Google Sheets. And I thought, “Hey, this might be a nifty way to quickly build Google search queries when you don’t have a lot of information.”

And so the Web Search Query Builder 5 Million Google Sheet was born. … You can try the sheet at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1hl0Ku9eqLIcr3piiz5DI_bbeZnQhZP-4eMLRBFLWJ44/edit?usp=sharing . I encourage you to make a copy of it for yourself and play with it. I’ve found it’s useful for getting a quick overview when I run into an unknown concept or name.