Improving Your Search Daniel E. Wilson [email_address]
Searching 1/09/2011 There are many ways to search for information: • Google/Other common search engines • Databases • Directories We'll be dealing with the first two.. Computer Applications in Libraries
1/09/2011 Source: www.google.com Search engines such as Google are amongst the most commonly used. These services provide swift and convenient access to information. With the vast array of unrelated and unreliable results, these tools can often turn research into an odious task. Computer Applications in Libraries Source: http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/outreach/images/trash.gif Many consider search engines to be simpler to use – but these services share many similarities with academic databases...
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries Databases are collections of useful and reliable information. They are: Source: http://www.sdtimes.com/blog/ Search engines are: Search engines are not: • Searchable • Focused • Reliable • Searchable • Convenient • Familiar • Focused • Reliable • Efficient
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries Search Techniques Regardless of which resource you decide to use, there are various techniques which can improve your results. These are: • Phrases • Word Variation • Boolean Operators
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries “Put it in quotes” Quotations serve one simple but very powerful function. When placed around two or more words, search results will only provide hits in which those words are provided in that exact order. Quotations can be used when standard keyword searches may result in far too great a quantity of results, or in results that are not accurate enough. Quotations are one of the most useful searching tools. Once you get the hang of them – you'll use them all the time!
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries Word Variations Often, the greatest hindrance to successful research is your choice of language. If your search doesn't provide you with the results you want, you can try using 'like terms' or synonyms in order to improve your findings. The term 'story' might be too broad, when similar terms such as fable, epic, or tale might have better results. For quick access to word synonyms, consult: http://www.thesaurus.com
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries Boolean Operators These are tools that, similar to quotations, limit or expand your search in different ways. Another variation on words is that of plurality or tense. Adding an asterisk after the word stem can help to expand results. Example: History* Other useful operators are: • And • Or • Not • Within
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries And, Or, Not... These operators can be placed in-between two words in order to alter how the search engine interprets them. 'And' makes the engine search for both words. 'Or' makes the engine search for either word. 'Not' makes the engine search only for results that use one word but not the following word.
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries Place the operator between the two search terms.
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries Within... A particularly interesting operator is 'within'. This functions similarly to quotations but does not require the two words to fall into an exact order. Formula: First term within x second term (X is the number of words they can be apart.) Both terms will appear within that number of words from one another – useful for finding two related terms that might not be right next to one another!
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries The number changes depending on how far apart you want the words to be.
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries Advanced Options Most search engines begin in basic search but have an advanced search mode. Advanced search is an invaluable tool that makes Boolean searching easier. It also makes available searches for aspects such as: • Author • Publication Date • Language
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries Author and Publication year are but two common features of a search engine or database 'advanced search'.
1/09/2011 Computer Applications in Libraries Thank you for your time. Any Questions?