Power searching 501 a crash course
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Power Searching 501 (?): a crash course - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Power Searching 501 (?): a crash course The stuff you need to know about searching, but may have forgotten along the way! (And, the stuff I want you to know before you go off to college!) But we’ve heard this all before, Mrs. V!

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PowerSearching 501 (?): a crash course

The stuff you need to

know about searching, but may have forgotten along the way!

(And, the stuff I want you to know

before you go off to college!)

But we’ve heard this all before, Mrs. V!

Sorry.This important review won’t hurt too much! I promise!!!! And it will help you in college and beyond!

Let us begin!

Yeah! Okay. We love databases and searching!

And I love your enthusiasm for

searching and databases!

You make me proud!

Our review begins!

Review question #1:

What is the difference between free Web search tools and subscription databases?


Free Web Search Tools

Subscription or Proprietary Search Tools

Review question #2:How can you choose the right search tools for you information task?

Choose the right database for your information need!

Choose the right search engine for your information need!

Choosing the Best Search Tool (Debbie Abilock) http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/5locate/adviceengine.html

Getting Started: Selecting a Tool for your Search


Even Google has choices:

  • Google Print - Search the full text of books

  • Google Scholar - Search scholarly papers

  • Google Directory for a subject approach

  • Google Images

Review question # 3: And when you are in the search engine or database, did you know you have a major searching interface choice?

Simple vs. Advanced

It’s about power!

Why go beyond the simple search screen?

Simple Screen

Click here for more precision and power!

Advanced screen

Simple screen in a database

Advanced screen in a database

And within your database, you will often have to make another choice!

Another decision:

Subject / Topic


Full text

This is an important choice!

Review question #4What is the difference?

  • Subject / topic

  • Keyword

  • Full text

    When might you use each?

Subject headings or descriptors in databases

Use the language and structure of the database to gather relevant material!

In some databases this choice is critical!

More about


headings and database structure!

Databases have information hierarchies

Subject structure behind the database

Descriptors may look different

Some search engines also offer subject / topic cues or clusters

You can open these categories!

Search engine clusters help you find relevant documents and suggest search terms

STOP the insanity!

Stop using stop words in your searches!

in, of, the, a, to you, why, who, what, on, than, then, their, an, his, her, be

Using stop or noise words instead of a Boolean operator

List of English “stop words”

Review question # 5What are Boolean operators?

Rockwell Schrock’s Boolean Machine


Google doesn’t care,

but your

database does!

Google ignores stop words and assumes an AND between words.

How important AND is!!!

Using the operator “AND” gets more results!

When to use “+” in Google

When do you really need OR?

OR is generally used for synonyms or related words.

OR in Google

NOT as a refinement technique for problem words eagles NOT Philadelphia“Martin Luther” NOT King

Using “not” in Google

Boolean operators in databases

“Phrase searching”

  • One of your best searching tools!

  • Use only for legitimate phrases, names, titles

    • Best example -- “vitamin A”

    • “John Quincy Adams”

    • Titles “An Officer and a Gentleman”

    • “to be or not to be”

  • Phrase searching is sometimes overused: not every group of words is a phrase

  • Sometimes “ANDing” is a better strategy

  • Time for parentheses?

    Wildcards and stemming

    • Google stems, it returns varies forms of words

    • Many databases do not stem.

    • Use an asterisk for various word forms

      adolesc* child* teen*

      BE CAREFUL when you stem: cat*

    Using wildcards in databases

    A question is not a query

    How many buffalo remain in the United States?

    Can you create an effective

    “two word” search?

    From David Barr, formerly of IMSA

    How to structure a good query

    • Brainstorm several key words and phrases—the ones you think would appear and wouldn’t appear in your dream document

    • Anticipate synonyms and related words

    • Mine your results!: be on the look out for better words and phrases as you search

    More on the query

    • Focus on nouns (verbs are often vague, stop words, like articles—a, an, the—are ignored by most engines)

    • Include most important words and phrases first.

    And just a few more little tricks!

    Searching by media type and using phrases

    (Also phrase searching

    Search / filter by media type


    Don’t forget the tabs across the top of the page!

    Sorting results

    Find command helpful for lots of text, or search results

    More like this, related sites . . .

    Searching within a large site

    And finally, as you search, consider . . .

    What types of sources does your instructor want you to cite:

    Primary sources?

    Scholarly sources?

    Popular sources?

    Trade journals?

    Consider what type of source is contained on that printout?

    • Popular?

    • Trade?

    • Scholarly?

    • Primary source?


    Scholarly words

    • Refereed

    • Peer reviewed

    • Scholarly

    Filter for scholarly

    and for full text

    When to use Wikipedia and other wiki sources




    A very powerful dictionary source!

    Help screens can help

    Online, offlineSchool, academic, public

    Librarians can really help!

    Habits of mind apply to research

    • Tolerating, embracing ambiguity

    • Using resources wisely

    • Seeking accuracy

    • Seeking clarity

    • Evaluating the effectiveness of your own actions

    • Planning

    • Being responsive to feedback

    • Being open-minded

    • Engaging intensely

    Any questions?

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