How to search effectively


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How to search effectively

  1. 1. How to search effectively<br />This section explains some of the basic principles of searching for information on library catalogues, online databases and search engines. It comes in four parts:<br /><ul><li> Keyword searching
  2. 2. Exact phrase searching
  3. 3. Wildcards
  4. 4. Boolean operators</li></li></ul><li>Keywords<br />
  5. 5. Every word matters. Generally, all the words you put in your query will be used.<br />Keep it simple. If you're looking for a particular person, concept, place, or product, start with its name.<br />Choose descriptive words. The more unique your keyword, the more likely you are to get relevant results.<br />Use lateral thinking. If a keyword does not return useful results, change it slightly: for example, for weather use storm, rain, sunshine, wind…<br />Adapted from Google’s basic search help.<br />
  6. 6. Exact phrase searching<br />
  7. 7. Quotation marks can be used to search for exact phrases: e.g. “english civil war”, “russian revolution”. This will focus your search and produce fewer hits.<br />Searching for english civil war in Google (without quotation marks) gives 10.3 million results:<br />Searching for “english civil war” (with quotation marks) gives 1.8 million results:<br />
  8. 8. *<br />Wildcards<br />?<br />
  9. 9. * ?<br />Wildcards are special characters you can use to replace letters in your keywords so that you can search for variant spellings of a word in the same search. <br />Variant spellings might include American and British spellings, or combining singular and plural spellings of words.<br />Often asterisks and question marks are used for wildcard characters. However, each library catalogue, search engine, database has its own rules regarding how to use wildcards so it’s best to consult the relevant help pages.<br />For example, information on how to use Google’s wildcard can be found here.<br />
  10. 10. The library catalogue uses ? and * for its wildcards:<br /><ul><li>Use the wildcard ? to replace a single character.
  11. 11. Use the wildcard * to replace one or more consecutive characters.
  12. 12. Wildcards can be used at the beginning, middle or end of a word.
  13. 13. To search for a term which contains * or ?, enclose the search phrase in quotation marks to prevent the characters being interpreted as wildcards.</li></ul>http://lr-system.south-thames.internal/HeritageScripts/Hapi.dll/help?topic=Searchtips<br />
  14. 14. Boolean operators<br />
  15. 15. Combining your keywords using Boolean operators will enhance your results and eliminate irrelevant material.<br />There are three Boolean operators: AND, OR and NOT.<br />In theory, Boolean operators are written in UPPERCASE, your keywords in lowercase. <br />In practice, library catalogues and internet search engines often have their own slightly different rules for using Boolean operators, this will be explained in their help sections.<br />
  16. 16. AND<br />ANDis used to combine keywords, <br />e.g. ‘politics AND media’<br />ANDnarrows your search<br />only those resources (book titles, journal articles, web pages) which contain both words are found.<br />
  17. 17. OR<br />ORis used to allow for alternatives, <br />e.g. ‘politics ORmedia’<br />OR broadens your search<br />either or both words can be found in a book title, web page, etc.<br />
  18. 18. NOT<br />NOT is used to remove keywords from a search, e.g. fruit NOT apples<br />NOT narrows your search<br />In this example, the first keyword fruit must be found and from this list results which contain the second keyword apples are then excluded. This search would find all fruits except apples. <br />
  19. 19. END OF PRESENTATION<br />press ESC to exit full-screen mode<br />