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Desk Research


About This Course

Welcome to Totem’s course on Desk Research for journalism! You will gain knowledge on best ways to use the Internet to collect data for investigations, including: finding documents and numbers; optimizing your Google Search results; and searching for specific sources.

Why should you take this course? Data collection is an important part of journalism and investigations. It allows you to move beyond opinions and unverified facts as well as to investigate and substantiate a story with data from official databases, including a range of viewpoints from different sources.

About Totem

Totem is an online platform that offers interactive courses to learn how to increase digital security and privacy. The optimal user experience is currently on your desktop computer. The aim is to support journalists, human rights defenders and activists use privacy tools and tactics more effectively in their work. Not a journalist? Don’t worry  these courses should work for everyone.

Start today and learn how to protect yourself online.

What will you learn?

At the end of the course you will...
  • Be able to conduct intelligent online research on databases, people and sources.
  • Be able to apply best practices and tips for conducting information research beyond a Google search.
  • Know how to search and extract data contained in local, national and international databases.


To take full advantage of this course we recommend that you first take the Totem course How the Internet works.

Last update

This course was updated for the last time on: February 2024


Content created with the help of Zamaneh Media as well as several organizations, digital security trainers and online education experts who collaborated during workshops and sprints to co-create this Totem course.