The Internet as a Search tool
This module is split into three topics - click the topic name to navigate directly to that topic:
Using Information gateways
What is an Information Gateway?
An academic information gateway is a collection of links to web sites on a common theme which have been pre-selected and evaluated by academic criteria.
Examples of Gateways
The Intute website, found at www.intute.ac.uk:
- provides access to four subject "hubs" which can be browsed and searched individually
- search the databases to search across the hubs
- browse the hubs by subject headings
- includes a link to the Virtual Training Suite, a set of tutorials in Internet information literacy and IT skills
- register with MYINTUTE to save searches and useful pages and to set up alerts
- Intute is created by 3 UK Higher Education bodies (JISC, AHRB and ESRC) for those in Higher Education
In the "Browse" section of the Intute web site you can explore the resources for your subject area.
- Go to the Intute web site
- Under the green "Behind the headlines" heading on the right hand side, click on the More link to get a listing of selected current news stories
- Click on the Suggested Search of any news story to see the linked resources
- Note the variety of sources for these related links
- Return to the Intute home page
- Click on the red "Virtual Training Suite" link from the menu on the right hand side
- Find a link that most closely matches your area of study and use the "tour" and "discover" links to explore the site
- Use the Links Basket facility to save a collection of useful web sites
BUBL(Orginally BUlletin Board for Libraries) - http://bubl.ac.uk
- An Internet-based information service aimed towards the UK higher education academic and research community
- BUBL provides access to selected Internet resources covering most major subject areas
- Includes links directory of organisations and jobs and events
- Provided by Centre for Digital Library Research of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Using the different sections of BUBL, explore the options available in your subject area:
HERO (Higher Education and Research Opportunities) - www.hero.ac.uk
- Directory of Reference and Subject Resources
- Links to subject information
- Wider world links to news, bookshops and publishers, professional bodies etc
Explore the sites accessible via the Directory and in subject orientated directories for the category closest to your subject area.
Using Search engines
You can search the web using search engines, which allow you to make key word searches. Some of the more popular search engines are listed below:
There are two main ways that search engines are constructed: (i) a manually compiled list of sites submitted to or found by the directory compiler and (ii) an automatically compiled list using web crawler and indexing software. Some use both methods.
Some Examples of Search Engines
Yahoo - www.yahoo.co.uk - is a manual directory with web crawler search supplied by Google. It contains searchable "categories" and an "advanced search" function.
Google - www.google.co.uk - is the biggest search engine database in the world. It selects pages by unique ranking algorithm, and there is no commercial ranking. However it cannot do complex Boolean searches. Google has also developed specific search engines for searching for special types of material:
- http://scholar.google.com - for 'scholarly' literature
- http://books.google.com - to search for the full-text of books and find out where to borrow or buy them. Results include snippets, sample pages and, in cases of out of copyright works, the full text of the book.
www.searchy.co.uk - A search engine which searches 'topworld search engines' simultaneously.
Altavista - www.altavista.com - useful extra features such as translation.
Ask Jeeves - http://askjeeves.co.uk - a natural language search engine.
For Further Help...
Try the RDN virtual training suite - www.rdn.ac.uk - for subject-based tutorials on internet skills.
www.allsearchengines.com - contains information on features of different search engines, including subject based search engines. It is US based.
Web search engines - www.philb.com/webse.htm - a list of 138 general search engines, categorised by type. For example: Freetext, Index/Directory, Meta/multi search engines.
Evaluating Internet resources
Not all information on the WWW is reliable. Criteria for evaluating web sites include:
- Is it clear who is the author of the site?
- What authority does the author possess? You could check the author's name in a bibliographic database?
- Is there a corporate owner of the information?
- Are claims supported by reliable evidence?
- Does the site include advertising?
- How up to date is the information or when was the site last updated?
- Are the web links on the page working?
- Are the web links to high quality and reliable web sites?
- Were you made aware of the site from a reliable source?
- Is the information biased in any way?
- What is the quality of the use of language and grammar?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Are you being asked for money?
Using the above criteria, evaluate the reliability of the websites in the list below. Ask yourself if you would trust the information on the site enough to use it as a reliable source that could be cited in academic work.
The URL or domain name may include helpful pointers to what to expect on the site:
- .gov - government site
- .ac.uk - UK academic institution
- .edu - US or Australian academic institution
- .co.uk - commercial company (UK)
- .com - commercial company (also includes UK)
- .org - organisation (may be charitable, non-profit making, an association etc)