Search Engines in Science Education

A search engine or search service is a program designed to help find information stored on a computer system, such as on the World Wide Web, inside a corporate or proprietary network, or in a personal computer. The search engine allows one to ask for content meeting specific criteria (typically those containing a given word or phrase) and retrieves a list of items that match those criteria. Search engines use regularly updated indexes to operate quickly and efficiently. (Source: Wikipedia)
Most web users only utilise a fraction of the search engines capabilities however.
This page is designed as to give the average web user a few more tips in order to facilitate better web searches.

Boolean Searching on the Internet

(ASI Document on Internet Searching)
When you use an Internet search engine, the use of Boolean logic may be manifested in three distinct ways:
  1. Full Boolean logic with the use of the logical operators
  2. Implied Boolean logic with keyword searching
  3. Predetermined language in a user fill-in template

1. Full Boolean logic with the use of the logical operators

Many search engines offer the option to do full Boolean searching requiring the use of the Boolean logical operators.
Examples:
Query: I need information about cats.
Boolean logic: OR
Search: cats OR felines
Query: I'm interested in dyslexia in adults.
Boolean logic: AND
Search: dyslexia AND adults
Query: I'm interested in radiation, but not nuclear radiation.
Boolean logic: NOT
Search: radiation NOT nuclear
Query: I want to learn about cat behavior.
Boolean logic: OR, AND
Search: (cats OR felines) AND behavior
Note: Use of parentheses in this search is known as forcing the order of processing. In this case, we surround the OR words with parentheses so that the search engine will process the two related terms first. Next, the search engine with combine this result with the last part of the search that involves the second concept. Using this method, we are assured that the semantically-related OR terms are kept together as a logical unit.

2. Implied Boolean logic with keyword searching


Keyword searching refers to a search type in which you enter terms representing the concepts you wish to retrieve. Boolean operators are not used.
Implied Boolean logic refers to a search in which symbols are used to represent Boolean logical operators. In this type of search on the Internet, the absence of a symbol is also significant, as the space between keywords defaults to either OR logic or AND logic. Nowadays, most search engines default to AND.
Implied Boolean logic has become so common in Web searching that it may be considered a de facto standard.
Examples:
Query: I need information about cats.
Boolean logic: OR
Search: [None]
It is extremely rare for a search engine to interpret the space between keywords as the Boolean OR. Rather, the space between keywords is interpreted as AND. To do an OR search, choose either option #1 above (full Boolean logic) or option #3 below (user fill-in template).
Query: I'm interested in dyslexia in adults.
Boolean logic: AND
Search: +dyslexia +adults
Query: I'm interested in radiation, but not nuclear radiation.
Boolean logic: NOT
Search: radiation -nuclear
Query: I want to learn about cat behavior.
Boolean logic: OR, AND
Search: [none]
Since this query involves an OR search, it cannot be done with keyword searching. To conduct this type of search, choose either option #1 above (full Boolean logic) or option #3 below (user fill-in template).

3. Predetermined language in a user fill-in template

Some search engines offer a search template which allows the user to choose the Boolean operator from a menu. Usually the logical operator is expressed with substitute language rather than with the operator itself.
Examples:
Query: I need information about cats
Boolean logic: OR
Search: Any of these words/Can contain the words/Should contain the words
Query: I'm interested in dyslexia in adults.
Boolean logic: AND
Search: All of these words/Must contain the words
Query: I'm interested in radiation, but not nuclear radiation.
Boolean logic: NOT
Search: Must not contain the words/Should not contain the words
Query: I want to learn about cat behavior.
Boolean logic: OR, AND
Search: Combine options as above if the template allows multiple search statements
Quick Comparison Chart:
Full Boolean vs. Implied Boolean vs. Templates

Full Boolean
Implied Boolean
Template Terminology
OR
college or university
[rarely available] *see note below
any of these words can contain the words should contain the words
AND
poverty and crime
+poverty +crime
all of these words must contain the words
NOT
cats not dogs
cats -dogs
must not contain the words should not contain the words
NEAR, etc.
cats near dogs
N/A
near

  • Most multi-term search statements will resolve to AND logic at search engines that use AND as the default. Nowadays most search engines default to AND. Always play it safe, however, and consult the Help files at each site to find out which logic is the default.
Where to Search:
A Selected List
Feature
Search Engine
Boolean operators
AltaVista Advanced Web Search | AllTheWeb Advanced Search | Dogpile | Google [OR only] | Ixquick
Full Boolean logic with parentheses, e.g., behavior and (cats or felines)
AlltheWeb Advanced Search | AltaVista Advanced Web Search | Ixquick | MSN Search
Implied Boolean +/-
Most search engines offer this option
Boolean logic using search form terminology
Most advanced search options offer this, including: AllTheWeb Advanced Search | AltaVista Advanced Web Search AOL Advanced Search | Ask.com Advanced Search | Google Advanced Search | MSN Search Search Builder | Yahoo Advanced Web Search
Proximity operators
Exalead | Google [by default] | Ixquick
A more complete list may be found on
How to Choose a Search Engine or Directory
(Source: Laura Cohen)


Making the Invisible Web Visible (Using the Deep Web)

The Invisible or Deep Web contains the information on the internet that does not appear on a regular internet search. It is not available because it is locked in query only databases or non-textual files, like multimedia files and pdf (portable document files).
When dealing with the deep Web, keep these points in mind:
Information that is likely to be stored in a database is a part of the deep Web.. This can include large listings of things with a common theme. All directories are part of the deep Web. A few examples include:
  • phone books
  • "people finders" such as lists of professionals such as doctors or lawyers
  • patents
  • laws
  • dictionary definitions
  • items for sale in a Web store or on Web-based auctions
  • digital exhibits
  • multimedia and graphical files
    • Information that is new and dynamically changing in content will appear on the deep Web. Look to the deep Web for late breaking items, such as:
  • news
  • job postings
  • available airline flights, hotel rooms, etc.
  • stock and bond prices, market averages, etc.
    • Web sites of searchable databases can be retrieved via directories and search engines. For example, a Google search on "american newspapers" will retrieve the site of NewsVoyager, a database of links to newspaper sites around the world. This may be thought of as "split level searching." For the first level, search for the database site. For the second level, go to the site and search the database itself for the information you want.
    • Many search engine sites and commercial portals feature searchable databases as part of their package of services. This phenomenon falls under the heading of converging content, mentioned earlier in this tutorial. For example, you can visit AlltheWeb and look up news, retrieve pictures and multimedia, etc., all things outside the purview of a spider-gathered index. As another example, Google integrates searches of PDF, Word and other file types into its general search service.
    • Some search engines will search the deep Web for related content subsequent to an initial search. For example, try a search on Google for "World Trade Center" and select the Images tab. This will retrieve many pages of images of the World Trade Center. Look for this type of feature on other search engines.

SWFs

SWF is a proprietary vector graphics file format produced by the Adobe Flash software. Intended to be small enough for publication on the web, SWF files can contain animations or applets of varying degrees of interactivity and function. The Flash program produces SWF as the compressed and uneditable final product, whereas it uses the .fla format for its editable working files.
The name is not officially an acronym, although it has been attributed as standing for Small Web Format and Shockwave Flash [1]. According to Macromedia, SWF is pronounced "S W F" (with each letter being pronounced individually), but some people prefer to pronounce it as "swiff"[2].
Using http://www.alltheweb.com/ search engine and a boolean search with "science" and "swf" a database of useable swfs will appear,
http://www.geo.wvu.edu/~donovan/geol101/animationindex-mh.htm


Other Research Strategies

Other extension or format or file tag worthy of searching with are listed as follows:
  1. .gif (animations format)
  2. .fvl (video format)
  3. .mov (video format)
  4. .avi (video format)
  5. .ppt (powerpoint format)
  6. .pdf (portable document format)
  7. .xls (microsoft excel format)
  8. .mp3 (audio format) or .mp4 (video format)
  9. .pps (microsoft powerpoint slide show format)
  10. .jpeg (graphic compression format)

This list is not exhaustive of the file extension that can be used to search the hidden web - but this probably comes close - http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/fileextensionsfull.asp
http://www.60sectech.com/File%20Extensions%20Explained.html


Effective Search and Research Strategies

http://teachdigital.pbwiki.com/search
This site investigates the search engine and the web2.0 research strategies and tools to give you the edge in your research task.


Google Functions

http://www.google.com.au/intl/en/help/features.html#cached - spend a couple of hours here to save you hundreds of hours into the future.