Using Search Engines
You can locate useful or interesting
web sites by using a search engine. A search engine is a website
containing a huge database of website addresses. You key in a subject or a name
that describes what you are seeking, and the search engine provides you with a
list or selection of web site addresses that fit your inquiry. You then simply
click on an address to jump to that web site.
Although search engine is
really a general class of programs, the term is often used to specifically
describe systems like Alta Vista and Excite that enable users to search for
documents on the World Wide Web.
Typically, a search engine works by
sending out a spider to fetch as many documents as possible. Another
program, called an indexer, reads these documents and creates an
index based on the words contained in each document. Each search engine uses a
proprietary algorithm to create its indices such that, ideally, only meaningful
results are returned for each query.
Preliminary Searching Hints
1. Choose a search engine, directory
or library in accordance with the kind of search you are doing and the kind of
results you are seeking.
2. Determine your aims: Do you want a
specific hard-to-find document on an esoteric subject, or general information on
a broader topic? Do you need to search the entire Web, or is what you are
seeking likely to be found on a number of sites, or only the most popular sites?
3. In making your choice, determine
whether the information you are looking for is likely to be in a page's title or
first paragraph, or buried deeper within the document or site.
4. Use a search
engine's advanced features, if available, and read the help files if you are
unclear about its searching procedure.
Choosing Search Terms And Syntax
1. Enter synonyms, alternate
spellings and alternate forms (e.g. dance, dancing, dances) for
your search terms.
2. Enter all the singular or unique
terms that are likely to be included in the document or site you are seeking.
3. Avoid using very common terms (e.g.
Internet, people), which may lead to a massive amount of irrelevant search
4. Determine how your search engine
uses capitals and plurals, and enter capitalized or plural forms of your search
words if appropriate.
5. Use a phrase or proper name if
possible to narrow your search and therefore retrieve more relevant results
(unless you want a large number of results)
6. Use multiple operators (e.g. AND,
NOT) if a search engine allows you to do so.
7. If you receive too many results,
refine and improve your search. (After browsing the results, you may become
aware of how to use NOT - e.g. Boston AND hockey AND NOT Bruins)
8. Pay attention to proper spacing
and punctuation in your search syntax (i.e. no space when using + means +term
not + term)
Which Search Engine Or Directory Do
to see all the possibilities.
Advanced Search Techniques
quite easy to get discouraged when searching the Internet. Just about any search
can result in hundreds, thousands, or even millions of "hits." For
example, suppose you wanted to track down information concerning community
college online science courses. You choose to use Alta Vista Search and
use the following key words: community college online science courses.
A simple search will list EVERY site that has
ANY of the keywords entered!!! Try to narrow you search to get the best
Tips, Tools, & Tricks To Advanced
more specific you can be, the better. Don't worry
about redundancy--synonyms can help narrow the field of your search. Leave out
nonessential words like prepositions and articles (of, to, the, and so on)--most
search engines ignore them anyway.
just a fancy name for the words AND, OR, NEAR, AND NOT. Most search engines
accept the symbols + and - for AND, and NOT,
respectively. By entering these operators between each keyword, it is quite easy
to instantly decrease the number of hits, thus achieving a much higher
specific keywords with quotation marks.
This requires the search engine to locate the EXACT PHRASE in order for it to be
returned as a "hit."
as * to include extra letters following the keyword letters entered.
- There is another way to narrow a search -
search just the TITLES of Web documents!
net.Tutor Using Search Tools
This tutorial presents an easy-to-follow process on using search engines
and subject directories for finding what you need on the World Wide Web.
Specifically, this course will enable you to:
- Use subject directories and describe the difference between a
subject directory and a search engine.
- Use implied and full Boolean logic, phrase searching, truncation,
and field searching effectively.
- Identify key concepts, synonyms, and variant word forms in your
- Use key search engines effectively including AltaVista, Google, All
the Web/FAST, and HotBot.
- Use meta-search engines.
- Use specialty databases when appropriate.
- Apply search strategies and techniques in a scavenger hunt
Conducting Research at a Distance
Many college libraries have
developed online tutorials for online research. Here are a few to explore:
University at Albany
University of California at Berkeley
Web Searching and Netscape Jargon