Tag Archives: Search Strategies

The Research Practioner Skills Day Presentation

Those of you who attended The Research Practitioner Skills Day at Chelsea Football Club on 26th November should have received all of our presentations by email. If not, mine (Using the Web) can be viewed or downloaded from either Slideshare or authorSTREAM.

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by karenblakeman

Top Search Tips – May 2008, Liverpool

UKeiG’s recent Liverpool Internet search workshop was filled to capacity. It was a packed day with a significant amount of new content and plenty of time for participants to try out the tools and techniques for themselves. At the end of the day they were asked to compile a list of their top tips. There were the usual suspects but the Google Custom Search Engine was new. It is the first time that we have covered Google CSE in the workshop and it generated so much interest that UKeiG will be producing a fact sheet on it. The full list of top tips is as follows:

1. Use the ‘site:’ command to search individual web sites that have appalling navigation and useless site search engines.

2. Search for file formats to narrow down and focus your search. For example search for Word documents or PDFs if you are looking for government or industry reports; xls for data and statistics; ppt or pdf for presentations.

3. Try something else other than Google. Have one Google free day or hour a week. Change the home page in your browser if it is set to Google.

4. Use the OR command in combination with the site: command to search more than one site or type of site. For example,

"carbon emissions trading" filetype:ppt site:ac.uk OR site:gov.uk

5. Don’t believe all you see, especially when it comes to people searches and mashups. [Mashups combine information from several different sources to produce a single new resource.]

6. If the information is critical, always cross and double check the accuracy of the information with independent sources.

7. Books are still relevant. For example, if you are new to a subject or industry sector try and find an introductory text that can help you with the terminology. They are also excellent for historical information. As well as Amazon, try Google Books (http://www.google.com/books/) for older texts, and Live Books (http://search.live.com/books/).

8. Use services such as Zuula or Intelways to remind you of the different types of information that are available and their appropriate search engines. Type in your search once and click on the search tools one by one.

9. Build your own Google Custom Search Engine for collections of sites that you regularly search, to create a searchable subject list, or to offer your users a customised, more focused search option.

10. Try good old fashioned Boolean. Yahoo, Exalead and Live support AND, OR, NOT and ‘nested’ searches, but don’t go overboard. Remember to type in the operators as capital letters. otherwise the search engines will ignore them as stop words.

11. Make use of proximity searching.

a) Double quote marks around your search terms to force a phrase search works in all of teh search engines. For example

"carbon emissions trading"

b) In Google, use the asterisk (*) to find your terms separated by one or more terms but close to one another. There is no information in the help files on the maximum separation. Increasing the number of asterisks is not supposed to make a difference but it does and it appears that one asterisk stands in for one word.

c) The Exalead NEAR command finds words within a maximum of 16 terms within each other. You can control the degree of separation by using NEAR/n where ‘n’ is a number specified by you. For example

climate NEAR/3 change

12. Try social bookmarking services to track down other people’s research lists on a subject. For example del.icio.us, Furl, Connotea, Citulike,

13. If you are looking for formatted files search Yahoo as well as Google. One participant tested several searches on both and found that Yahoo consistently came up with more. This could be due to different coverage of the two services but is more likely to be down to the fact that Google indexes the first 100K of a document but Yahoo indexes 500K. [Karen Blakeman comments: also search in Live.com. I recently found two unique documents via Live.com that contained vital information on a company that I was researching].

14. The Internet Archive (Wayback Machine) at http://www.archive.org/ for pages, sites and documents that have disappeared. Ideal for tracking down lost documents, seeing how organisations presented themselves on the Web in the past, and for collecting evidence for a legal case.

15. Partially Answer your question in your search strategy. For example

"A hippopotamus can run at"

Top 10 Search Tips from Edinburgh – March 2008

CILIPS organised an advanced search workshop in Edinburgh, which I led. The participants were from a variety of types of organisation including academic, publishers, public sector, health and commercial. At the end of the workshop they compiled a group Top 10 Search Tips. This is their list:

  1. Yahoo! Finance – http://finance.yahoo.co.uk/ for the UK version. Yahoo! Finance gives an overview of quoted companies on the major stock exchanges around the world. Information includes current share price information, downloadable historical share price figures, charts, recent news, company profiles and director dealings.
  2. Make use of the file format search available in Google, Yahoo, Live and Exalead (but not Ask). Use the advanced search screens, the filetype: command in Google, Exalead and Live, or originurlextension: in Yahoo. For example filetype:ppt . Search for ppt or pdf when looking for presentations; PDF for government, official and industry/market reports; xls for spreadsheets containing statistical data; and rss or xml to locate RSS feeds.
  3. Looking for papers by an academic? Find out where they currently work, or have worked in the past, and conduct a site search to see if any of their articles are in an institutional repository.
  4. People are an invaluable source of information and help. Join discussion lists to tap into their knowledge, for example JISCmail at http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/ has a wide selection of lists covering many different topics.
  5. Use the site or domain search to look for difficult to find information on a particular web site, or to limit your search to types of organisation for example gov.uk for UK government or ac.uk for UK academic pages. Use the advanced search screens of the search engines or the site: command for example site:statistics.gov.uk car ownership.
  6. Make more use of the advanced search screen options including intitle, inurl and search engine specific features. For example Google’s numeric range search and Exalead’s phonetic and approximate spelling options.
  7. Combine commands in the main search box for more complex search strategies, for example: carbon emissions trading ~forecasts site:gov.uk 2012..2015 filetype:xls OR filetype:pdf
  8. Use the link commands to find pages that link to a known page or web site. This usually helps you find pages of similar content and type. Live.com’s link commands have been de-activated but Yahoo’s still work. To find pages that link to a specific page on a site use link: followed by the full URL of the page, for example link:http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/stats.htm . To find pages that link to anywhere on a site use linkdomain: followed by the domain, for example linkdomain:rba.co.uk. Live.com’s linkfromdomain command, which is still working, lists all the external links on a site, for examle linkfromdomain:rba.co.uk
  9. View the search engines’ cached copies of pages to highlight and locate your search terms in long documents.
  10. Try the Wayback Machine at http://www.archive.org/ for lost pages, documents or sites.