The 5 W’s
should lead to an educated assumption about where the information may be found, or at minimum some places to start looking, particularly when paired with the information in this toolkit. The Internet is an excellent resource for doing background research about a topic, which can lead to the answer or resource sought. Once a well-thought-out question or statement is formulated, the key to finding useful information online is knowing how to refine the search.
For example, you may be looking for FTA rules and regulations about buses. You could simply type “bus” into Google, but will get a lot of results that aren’t useful or applicable. To find an good answer to this query, this person would have to employ the following search tip:
Search a specific site or domain using the following search qualifiers:
[word site:domain] will search the domain for the specified search term.
[bus site:gov] will search all .gov (government) sites for the word “bus.”
[bus site:fta.dot.gov] will search the FTA website for “bus.”
This above example is useful if the information you want is can be be found on a government website, specifically FTA. It will save you from wading through search results that aren't relevant. Use any part of a website URL for this trick: .net, .com (commercial, business sites, may not be the best source for information in some cases), .org (associations or non-profits, often contain very trustworthy information), .edu (educational institutions), or any specific URL, such as “nationalrtap.org” to search that specific site.
Two basic search tips that can always be applied are:
• Simplify—the fewer key words in a query, the better the results. For example: Instead of, “Which federal laws apply to bus operators?” a better query would be “bus federal law” or “transit federal law.”
• Continue to refine and add key words that will narrow down the results if the first search is too broad.
For more specific search tips based on search engine, visit the following links:
Tip: While search engines are useful for performing broad searches, they only search a small part of the Internet and are not completely up to date with what exists on the Internet. For example, they will not search databases within websites, such as National RTAP’s Resource Library—you have to visit the National RTAP website to search.