Last Updated: Thursday, June 07, 2007
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Locating materials on the Internet
If you are new to the Internet, you may be confused by the many terms that come with it, such as hyperlink or URL. The following is a brief introduction so you won’t be lost reading about the Internet.
The Internet is a system connecting millions of computers around the world. The component most people use is the World Wide Web, which presents rich content, including multimedia clips and other things like live audio and radio. The content of Web pages are viewed by using a Web Browser. The most popular web browsers in use are Firefox and Internet Explorer (by Microsoft). The top-level page of a web site is known as a home page, and other pages branch off from there. Also, the first page you see at a web site is referred to as a home page.
Navigating the ‘Net
Each Web page has an address known as an URL (Uniform Resource Locator). You can key in a specific address (URL) and go directly to that page. Parts of the address tell you about where you are going on the Internet. For example, if you go to this address: http://www.altavista.com
- http:// tells your computer how to communicate with other computers on the Net.
- www indicates that the site is on the World Wide Web.
- .com indicates the site is commercial (for profit) instead of being .edu (college or school), .org (non-profit organizations), or .gov (government agency).
The most common way to move around the Web is by clicking text or pictures called links (or hyperlinks), which have addresses coded into them. When your mouse pointer passes over a link it changes from a pointer to a hand shape. When you are transported to a new link, often it is located at a different site. One must always remember to jot down or electronically store bookmark sites, using Favorites in IE, of sites to which you wish to return.
You can use one of a variety of search tools or search engines that search the Internet for words or phrases that you specify. Some search tools called directories, allow you to search by subject rather than by using words or phrases (keyword searching).
Use the Back and Forward buttons to navigate back or forward one or two pages. To move more than that, click the History button, which will list sites visited recently. If a site appears not to be loading, click the Stop button, then click Refresh.
Finding Resources on the Web
There are two ways to locate information on the Web. They are:
- Knowing a specific Internet address (URL), keying it into the location box, and pressing Enter. This will transport you directly to the site you specified.
- Using a search engine if you do not have a specific URL for information needed. Once a resource is located, you should electronically bookmark the URL (using Favorites in Internet Explorer) or write it down. Once you have located a resource, if you feel it is a resource that you will frequently use, if you have adequately marked it you should never have to search for that resource again.
Searching the Net
Four types of search tools exist. Each method is described below and tips for using each, as well as advantages and disadvantages of each, is given.
- Search Engine—searches databases by using keywords. It responds to a query with a list of references or hits…this is known as a keyword search. Use a keyword search to obtain specific information since these databases are larger and more likely to contain information sought.
- Directory—searches for information by subject matter. This is called a subject search. It starts with a general subject heading and follows with a succession of increasingly more specific sub-headings. Use a subject search when you want general information on a subject or topic. Often within the references you will be led to specific information you need.
- Directory with Search Engine—uses both keyword and directory searching. Usually, this search would start with a directory-type search moving from broad, general topics to more specific topics. At a level along the way, the operator would begin to use a keyword search blank to look for more specific information. Best for use when you are uncertain of which type of search to use—keyword or subject.
- Multi-search engine—(meta-search)—uses a number of search engines at once. The search is conducted using keywords using boolean operators or plain language. Hits are listed either by search engine or by integrating the results into a single listing. Use to speed up search process.
Helpful Search Tools
Directory and Search Engine (directory and search engines work independently)
Directory with Search Engine (directory and search engine tools operate interactively)
Multi-Engine or Metasearch Engines
Educational Research Tools
Personal Favorites (not in any special sequence)
Improving Keyword Searches—Using Operators
Operators are the rules or instructions for composing a keyword search. Each search engine has its own operators; however, many search tools use the same operators. The following are some of the most common operators.
Boolean: the words AND, OR, NEAR, and NOT to connect words and phrases in the query.
- AND required that both terms are present somewhere within the document being sought.
- NEAR requires that one term must be found within a specified number of words.
- OR requires that at least one term is present.
- NOT excludes a term from a query.
Example: business AND communication
- Uses [+] before a term to retrieve only items containing that term. Similar to Boolean AND.
- Employs [-] before a term to exclude that term from the search. Similar to Boolean NOT.
- Don’t leave a space between the operator and the term that follows.
Example: +business +communication
- Indicates that the words within the quote marks are to be treated as a phrase or close to it. Similar to Boolean NEAR.
Example: “Business communication”
a method of combining concepts to gain the result you want using the following "connectors": AND, OR, NOT.Example of "simple" Boolean (e.g. technology AND teaching) and "complex" Boolean (e.g. [(teaching NEAR technology) AND science] )
- concept-based searching
will search for your term plus synonyms of that term (e.g. if you type in "premature aging disease" the search engine will also search for the scientific name - "progeria")
- hypertext mark-up language (html)
Used to create Web documents.
- Implied Boolean
where "connectors" are used to represent the Boolean AND, OR, NOT. (e.g. +business +communication is equivalent to business and communication)
- Internet address
see uniform resource locator (URL)
- Metasearch or Meta-index
an index of search engines and subject directories. Will do a simultaneous search on many different search engines and subject directories.
- proximity searching
a method of combining keywords to be NEAR, ADJACENT TO, WITHIN X WORDS OF the next keyword. (e.g. cabernet NEAR wine will find the two keywords within x words of each other where x is the variable created by the - in this case-robot-driven search engine)
- subject directory/list
another method of accessing information on the Web. Subject directories are created by humans (unlike search engines which use a robot to collect information) and so the information contained is limited by human time to update. Quality of subject indexes may be better as they are indexed by humans.
- uniform resource locator (URL)
the address or location of a document available via the Web.