Inquiry and Research Tips: Browsing or Searching

An “IB education aims to transform students and schools as they learn through dynamic cycles of inquiry, action and reflection” (International Baccalaureate Organization). As such, learners at Mahindra International School often engage in learning centered in research. When conducting an inquiry into a topic some situations call for browsing and some call for searching. Understanding which one is needed will help in creating a search strategy.

Let us begin by defining the two and then break down how our approach might change. I like to use an analogy of shopping to help in understanding the difference between browsing and searching. Sometimes we might make a trip to the mall, or shopping plaza and not have a particular item in mind that we are looking for. We might walk around and stop in stores we like, or something in the window of a store might catch our attention. We might buy something or we might not. We would consider this experience browsing. Other times we might be looking for something specific. Maybe a new pair of running sneakers. In this instance we will go into the sports goods and sport shoe stores. We will look at and try on running sneakers and leave with a new pair of running sneakers. We would consider this experience searching.

To apply this analogy to inquiry and research when we are browsing we will look for general information sources that include many topics. Sources like Destiny Discover, PebbleGo, Gale Elementary, and Gale Student Resources. Our search strategy will involve lots of clicking and exploring links, images, and videos that catch our attention. In the library we would walk around and pick up books that catch our attention. In the end we might find one or many things that interest us. This can sometimes be the background research step in a research process.

When conducting a search we will choose a topic specific resource like National Geographric, Gale Science in Context or Gale Global Issues in context. We might still use a general resource but will need to be more specific in our search strategies. We need to use advanced strategies like keyword searching, and filtering to reach our desired topic. Searching is usually the middle part of the research process which leads to an answer to our research question or wonder.

As principled learners we demonstrate academic integrity throughout our learning experiences. Learners “produce authentic pieces of work where sources that have informed and inspired their ideas are clearly acknowledged” (Mahindra International School)

As thinkers, learners “understand and evaluate sources critically to assess their validity, credibility and underlying biases.” (Mahindra International School)

As inquirers “learners are mindful of how good research need to be supported by clear referencing and acknowledgment of any sources used.” (Mahindra International School)

MIS provides a range of high-quality research sources through subscriptions to databases and other media. Teachers curate exemplar lists of credible sources, and as learners progress through the IB program their skills in evaluation and critical analysis grow to allow them to curate quality resources independently.

Both browsing and searching are important strategies as part of our research process as well as exploring inquiries for our own enjoyment and continued learning. Engaging in principled inquiry, at home and in the classroom extends the school’s Mission to Promote Learning and Encourage Responsibility.

International Baccalaureate Organization. “The IB Teaching Style.” International Baccalaureate®, Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

Mahindra International School. Academic Integrity Policy. 2018.

Elizabeth Cominole