Internet Searching Tips

Search Tools

Subject Directories contain a collection of links to Internet resources submitted by a site creators or evaluators and organized into subject categories. Subject directories are resources recommended by experts.

Examples: Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), About.com (www.about.com)

Search Engines are searchable databases of Internet files collected by a computer program. Use search engines when you are looking for a particular web site, have a specific research question or are looking for current information.

Examples: Google (www.google.com), Lycos (www.lycos.com), Altavista (www.altavista.com)

Meta-search engines send searches to several search engines at once, and then build the results into a coherent results page.

Examples: Dogpile (www.dogpile.com/index.gsp), Metacrawler (www.metacrawler.com/index.html)

Useful Search Techniques

Field searching allows you to restrict your search to a particular field within a Web page, which can narrow your results. For example, you want to find Web pages about the Spiderman comics and you suspect that you would get more accurate results by looking only within the title.

Example: Title: Spiderman comics

Wildcard Searching - If you don't want to exclude terms that end with s, ing, etc., use a wildcard search by truncating the search terms with an asterisk (*).

Example: Tex* will get Texas, Texan (be careful, you will also get text, textile, etc.)

Phrase Searching is used to find exact terms, use quotation marks.

Example: "Blue Suede Shoes"

Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages

  • Accuracy
    • Who wrote the page and can you contact him/her?
    • Make sure the author provides contact information.
    • Know the difference between the author and Webmaster.
    • What is the purpose of the page and why was it produced?
    • Is this person qualified to write the page?
  • Authority
    • What credentials are listed about the author?
    • Where is the document published? Check the URL for the domain
  • Objectivity
    • What goals/objective does the page meet? Determine if the page is a mask for advertising; if yes, then the information could be biased.
    • View all Web pages as infomercials. Ask yourself why was this written and for whom?
  • Currency
    • When was it produced?
    • When was it updated? Is the information on the page outdated?
    • How up-to-date are the links or are any dead links present?
  • Coverage
    • Do the links complement the page?
    • Is it all images or all text?
    • Is the information presented cited correctly?
    • Is the information free?
    • Do you need special software to view the information and how much are you missing without the software