• 5 Ways to Get Research Ideas Using Google N-Gram

    We are often faced with difficulty when it comes to figuring out research ideas. It requires reading a lot about a subject you are interested in before discovering the right topic for your research. If you don’t have enough time to read as much as you want, Google’s N-gram Viewer will help you find a topic by using keywords related to your subject of choice.

    Google’s N-gram Viewer is a tool that calculates cultural trends based from a huge collection of data. The site shows word frequencies in over 5.2 million books, which is around 4% of all books published. You can check any word and view its trend or compare keywords to see which ones were used more often in a period of time.

    The great thing about this tool is the ability to hypothesize from the n-grams result. To understand this, here are 5 simple ways to utilize Google N-grams to help you come up with term papers or studies like medical field research:

    1.       Familiarize yourself with the tool. Have fun with it by comparing words or phrases. Try to interpret what you have.

    2.       Once you get the hang of it, try keywords related to what you are interested to research about. Take note that the tool is case sensitive; “Math” is different from “math”.

    3.       Utilize the different book collections or “corpora” when searching for a word for more results or for comparing American English and UK English, and other languages that you can choose from.

    4.       Use Smoothings to avoid immense spikes on your result. This helps when data looks like a moving average over a certain period in your timeline. In example, if you use a Smoothing of 1, the data for 1970 will be an average of the data from 1 year from either side of 1970 (“1969” count + “1970” count + “1971” count), divided by 3.

    5.       Set a timeline of your choice. You can change the dates from centuries ago to 2000, or try specific dates.

    The trends should help give ideas but remember that the tool is not perfect. Interpret data with caution by checking the links that can be found at the bottom. Check if the word that you’re looking for matches the result.

    The tool will help you discover new things and once you have a topic or hypothesis that you want to discuss, you can start getting readings that can either prove your study or lead to another hypothesis for further study.

    Sources:

    Culturonomics

    Three Tips on Using Google NGrams

    The Rise and Fall of Ideas: Having fun with Google N-Grams

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