Power searching 101 a crash course
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Power Searching 101: a crash course. The stuff you need to know about searching BEFORE you begin your senior project research paper assignment!. But we know how to do it!.

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Power Searching 101: a crash course

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PowerSearching 101: a crash course

The stuff you need to

know about searching


you begin your senior project research paper assignment!

But we know how to do it!

Sorry.This review won’t hurt too much! I promise!!!! Besides, it will help as you begin this very important project!

Let the review begin!

I’m a librarian…of course I’m going to begin with print sources – BOOKS!




Please remember:

  • In order to checkout a book, a $15 refundable deposit is required.

  • A better option might be to use the photo copier @ 10 cents per page.

    • Be sure to write the name of your source on the copy to help you with correct documentation later!

Try something new!

  • Playaways (audiobooks)

    • Fiction

    • No deposit required

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library (e-Books)

    • Password: wood17828

    • Career Information Center (13 volumes)

    • No deposit required

Do you know…

…the difference between

free Web search tools and subscription databases?


Does the internet site try to persuade rather than inform?


Is the page actually an ad disguised as information?


Is the information trying to sway you?


Is the bias explicit or hidden?



Does the identity of the sponsor suggest bias?

Evaluate Internet sites before using them!

You must sort out

the gems from

the junk!

To cite a web site:

  • Name of the page

  • Who’s page is it?

    (person or group)

  • URL

  • Date of access

As you search, consider . . .

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

Scholarly sources?

Popular sources?


Database sources?

Internet sources?


Great for PRE-search, rather than research!



Internet searching

can be frustrating!

Why can’t I find

what I want?

Glad you asked!


incorrect spelling/typo

(you'll find Web pages with the same typo!)

one of the most common problems and easy to remedy

e.g. searching for stacksinstead of stocks


poorly described or conceptualized topic

know what you are looking for, and if this is not possible, know what you are NOT looking for (eliminate if necessary)

e.g. searching for something on tobacco

instead of tobacco and government subsidies


query is too general

narrow your focus

e.g. searching for cars

instead of Toyota Camry 2004 


query is too specific

broaden your search using synonyms or larger categories

e.g. searching for flashing lime green stop sign in a gif format

instead of stop signs and gif


expect instant success, or give up

Be patient! It takes effort to find exactly what you are looking for….and who knows….you might learn to enjoy the hunt!

How well do YOU search?

Use GOOGLE to answer this question:

Which of William Shakespeare’s plays has been said to refer to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605?

ONE Search Path is:


Tip: Open the web site….Edit/Find…“gunpowder”… You are there!

"William Shakespeare" play

"gunpowder plot" 1605 site:edu

Ready to become apower searcher?

Let’s begin with a few tips & tricks

to help you find the

needle in the haystack!

Good searchers….

  • Search the free Internet and subscription databases

  • Make use of advanced search screens

  • Use search strategies

  • Use peripheral vision--they mine their results for additional keywords to use as search terms

“Mine” other keywords for searching!

Students often…..

  • Do not search strategically

  • Assume search engines understand natural language style

  • Continually repeat failed search terms and strategies

  • Show a lack of concern for the quality of their sources or the accuracy of the information found

A question is not a search query.

How many buffalo remain in the United States?

Who is the president of France?

Tips for a good search query:

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

  • Consider alternate forms of words (truncate when you can).

    adolesc* for adolescent, adolescents, adolescence

  • Anticipate synonyms and related words.

    teen, teens, teenagers, youth, students

  • Check your spelling. Bad spelling usually turns up hits, just bad hits.

  • Use lowercase letters unless you are searching for proper names. Turn off the CAPS LOCK!

  • Follow “more like this” or “similar pages” links.

Phrase Searching

  • This can be one of the best search strategies!

  • Use only for legitimate phrases, names, titles.

    • “vitamin A”

    • “John Quincy Adams”

    • “An Officer and a Gentleman”

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

  • Sometimes using AND is a better strategy.

  • To search the

    free Web is





    When searching the Internet

    or using databases, it’s all

    about power searching!

    Advanced screen

    This is an important choice!

    Stop using stop wordsin your searches!

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

    Using stop or noise words instead of a Boolean operator

    List of English “stop words”

    3 crucial tips for conquering theGoogle Game

    * *by Katrine Watkins and Kathleen Elder

    School Library Journal, January 2006

    • “ ”exact phrases

    • + -narrow your search

    • site:limit to more authoritative sites

    Search exact phrases

    “human rights”

    “affirmative action”

    “bourbon dynasty”

    “great depression”

    Add some math

    • Use a minus sign to exclude a word from your search

      vikings -Minnesota

      buffalo -football

      depression -great

    Use more authoritative sites




    The goals of the game:

    Think critically to refine a search

    Reduce the number of hits to wade through

    Have the best site rise to the top

    Assignment: research seasonal depression, a mental disorder often occurring at Christmas

    Depression 85,500,000 hits

    Seasonal depression 10,500,000 hits

    Depression -great seasonal 1,690,000 hits

    To above, add site:edu 61,900 hits

    Then add FAQ 382 hits

    Question: Explain how Poe used the raven as a symbol in his famous poem.

    the raven 8,120,000 hits

    raven poe 893,000 hits

    raven poe symbol 92,100 hits

    “edgar allan poe” raven symbol 44,800 hits

    To above, add site:edu 362 hits

    Now your turn…

    Let’s play the

    Google Game

    The goals of the game:

    Think critically to refine a search

    Reduce the number of hits to wade through

    Have the best site rise to the top

    What are the methods of tattoo removal that a teen might consider?

    One optimal search: methods “tattoo removal” site:gov (380 hits)

    Answer: dermabrasion, excision, laser removal

    Who is the Prince of Pop, and what is the blotted line that he made famous?

    One optimal search: "Prince of Pop" "blotted line" (24 hits)

    Answer: Andy Warhol's early drawing technique

    What sport was Mamie Peanut Johnson playing when she got her nickname?

    One optimal search: "Mamie Peanut Johnson" sport nickname site:gov (2 hits)

    Answer: Negro League baseball

    Habits of mind

    applied to senior project:

    • Working toward a goal with enthusiasm

    • Using resources wisely

    • Seeking accuracy

    • Seeking clarity

    • Evaluating the effectiveness of your own actions

    • Planning ahead

    • Meeting deadlines

    • Being responsive to feedback

    • Being open-minded

    • Engaging intensely

    Help screens can help…

    …but librarians can really help! Be sure to ask!

    Let’s update an old proverb:

    Chinese Proverb:

    21st Century Precept :

    • Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.

    • Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

    Give a student the answer to a question and he can finish his homework.

    Teach a student how to search effectively and create a lifelong learner.

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