Refining web search techniques
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Refining Web Search Techniques. Developing Self Regulatory Research Skills. CYBER LITERACY. Term for finding, scanning, digesting and storing internet information. Requires that individuals become critically attuned to “web world”.

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Refining Web Search Techniques

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Refining web search techniques

Refining Web Search Techniques

Developing Self Regulatory Research Skills

Cyber literacy


  • Term for finding, scanning, digesting and storing internet information.

  • Requires that individuals become critically attuned to “web world”.

  • Different than Print-based literacy; students need to incorporate key reading or navigation skills.

  • Includes the evaluation of visual and non-textual features

Internet expectations

Internet Expectations

  • Students recognize that getting information from books is a more leisurely pursuit but believe that results for the internet should be immediate.

  • This demand for instant gratification results in students only performing superficial research. (1-2 searches taking 10-15 minutes)

Alternative reading strategies

Alternative Reading Strategies

  • Permits non-linear/non hierarchical strategies and thinking (hypertext)

  • Requires Visual Literacy skills to understand the multimedia components (Often has pictures, photos, music, video, graphics etc…)

  • Is interactive, reader is able to change and move text (Copy and Paste functions)

  • Allows blurred relationship between reader and writer(contact the author)



  • Issue: “Snatch and Grab”Students don’t chunk and make notes like they do with print

  • Students skim text for identified key words or phrases, grab text and save on a disk or bookmark the site for later reading.

  • Problem is that students only read superficially (Limited comprehension), and compile a “Grab Bag” of references.

  • Later, Students need to “cull” their references and find that they have little specified information in sources.

Efficient research strategies


Students need to narrow the scope of research to stay focused on the search.

  • Designing Key words or questions before they begin a search. Why? Net Lower More Refined search Results.

  • Avoid “Channel Surfing” on the Net. Browsing aimlessly can eat up valuable research time with little final reward.

  • Chunking Technique: Break a complex topic down into manageable chunks, which encourages LATERAL THINKING about the topic and allows students to organize research around the smaller chunks.

Cyber litter


Cyber-litter = Non-functional Information Overload

Currently, there are more than 400 million indexable Web Pages currently existing

“Searching for desired information among this vast collection can be daunting, frustrating, mind-boggling, and sometimes a futile activity.” (Zane K. Quible)

Web directory coverage

Web Directory Coverage:

  • Hot Bot: 34%

  • Alta Vista: 28 5

  • Excite: 14%

  • Infoseek: 10%

  • Lycos: 3%

Going beyond google


  • Google Has 4 million pages in its data base.

  • Google (and other search engines) are businesses first: “deliver human eyes to interested buyers”

  • Balance public demand for good search with imperative to sell

  • Google uses a page ranking algorithm that determines relevance by the # of times the pages are linked by other pages in the data base. Webmasters exploit this behaviour by linking to their own pages over and over again so that when others search, the page rises higher in the results.

  • Organizations pay to place adds/links near results when certain key words are searched.

Meta search engines


  • These search engines use other search engines to broaden a search across the web.

  • Rely on Revenue sharing from search partners

  • Enable the researcher to send a single query (keyword or key phrase) to multiple data bases simultaneously.

  • Lets you see search results you might have missed by using only one search engine

Meta search engines1


Clustering search engines


  • Arrange search results into groups around a common theme unlike the more linear results of most search engines

  • This will provide links to internet sites by subtopic which can be useful if a student is searching a topic for the first time and lacks experience on the subtopics


Advanced search features and boolean search operations


Many students miss opportunities to refine their search queries to limit search domains and zero in on resources that have a higher match to their research needs.

Add qualifying words


  • Add qualifying words in a simple search to bring these kinds of sources to the top of the query result list:resourceslinksdirectoryspecifically named technology/names/events

Boolean logic


  • Boolean logic actually has a much longer history than the invention of the internet

  • Used to increase the productivity of a search

  • Boolean operators: and, or, not, near




A search connecting two words with and retrieves from its indexes only those websites that match both words

(some search engines allow + instead of and)



Or:A search connecting two words that contain either word(websites do not need to contain both words)



Not:Retrieves websites that do not contain the word that follows not(This could get rid of advertisements and sales in intellectual research)



Near:Retrieves internet sites where the word before and after near are located (depending on the site) within 4 words to 10 words of each other.

This is a good way to sift out useless hits and get better relevance to the top of your search results.



Some search engines allow “Constraining Key Word Searches” which means that the searcher can restrict searches to certain parts of the web :Ex. AltaVista allows retraining using anchor, applet, host, image, link, text, title, and url. Ex. Only IBM urls could be retrieved in the search.



Exact Phrase Searches:Some websites allow the use of quotation marks so that an exact phrase can be used. This will allow further sifting for a researcher.

Advanced search features


  • Qualify Your Search:Use these fields to search for words or exact phrases.

  • All of these words

  • The exact phrase

  • Any of these words

  • None of these words

  • Additional Web Search Options

  • Language Filter Include results only written in the selected language.  

  • Date: Select the range of date that a particular article was published. after     before      

  • Domain Filter Filter generic domain extensions like .com, .gov and .edu, and/or include a specific domain like

  • Include Results From 

  • Exclude Results From 

Specialty databases


Expert researchers used Data Bases for sources of information because they can guarantee quality resources and up to date information

For Students, data bases generally provide article length resources which are easy to manage.

Hint: many data bases use Keyword inventories developed by the Library of Congress: Knowing the right keywords can get you the best results. Our library has the Library of congress subject titles.

Available data bases for students

Available Data Bases for Students:

Sirs Researcher:

User: XA2772H

Pass: 48412

Big Chalk:

User: research

Pass: bigchalk

Final note

Final note:

For those of you that are visual learners and find searching the web tiresome because of all the print-based information sifting: You may find the following search engine refreshing: It provides visual search results:

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