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Better Researching

Page history last edited by msward 12 years, 1 month ago

Better Searching = Better Results



Be the spider, not the bee

When looking for food, the bee travels from flower to flower to flower. This is the traditional way that we think about researching. We go to a search engine and jump from web page to web page to web page.  This is tiring and inefficient.  Instead, we need to be like the spider.


The spider spins a web and waits for his food to come to him. He doesn't waste time.  He has found a better way to make what he want come to him.  So, how can we do that as researchers?




1. BEE A Better Searcher: Google Smarter, Not Harder




Using Better Search Terms and Options


    • It's all about your search terms. Before ever putting a word into the Google search box, first spend some time coming up with 5 - 10 specific search terms.  In fact, refer to these pages to help you refine your search terms.
    • Use quotation marks to limit results.  Putting quotation marks around your search terms tells Google to return results that include only that exact phrase.  This is especially important to use when you are looking for research on uniquely worded or specific terms.  For example, there are over 16 million results for India's water supply but only 186,000 results for "India's water supply," and the results that are returned when using the quotations are more relevant.
    • Search within a specific website (site:) Google allows you to specify that your search results must come from a given website. For example, by typing India site:nytimes.com Google will return pages about India from the New York Times website. You can broaden this, too.  If you type India site: .gov you will get results from a .gov domain.
    • Use the minus to limit what your search returns. When you put a minus before a word in the search box, Google will not return sites that include that term.  For example, by doing a search like salsa -dancing (notice there is no space between the minus and dancing), the minus will remove "dancing" from the search results you get back.
    • Define: Need a quick definition? Type define: word and viola! An instant definition!
    • Use OR to refine your search. Google's default behavior is to consider all the words in a search. In fact, you don't need to use and because this is Google's default.  If you want to specifically allow either one of several words, you can use the OR operator (note that you have to type 'OR' in ALL CAPS). For example, Philadelphia Phillies 2008 OR 2009 will give you results about either one of these years, whereas Philadelphia Phillies 2008 2009 (without the OR) will show pages that include both years on the same page.
    • Use the tilde to find synonymous search terms. Adding the tilde (~) before a search term will help broaden your search because the tilde tells Google to return not only the search term you specified, but also terms that Google thinks are synonymous with your term.
    • Use an asterisk to find a quick answer. Sometimes the best way to ask a question is to get Google to fill in the blank by adding an asterisk (*) at the part of the sentence or question that you want finished into the Google search box. How many MPH can the world's fastest man run? Ask Google by typing the world's fast man can run * MPH.







  • GOOGLE SEARCH OPTIONS: Search smarter using timeline searches, scholar searches, and book searches
    • Google Books: Search full texts of books (hint: use the search box to the left of the book's pages)

    • Google Scholar: Search scholarly online journals, presentations, and texts
    • Google News: Search worldwide news sources




Tips and Tricks for Searching Sources Faster

  • Control + F opens a find box at the bottom of the page to make searching within a document for specific information even easier. This works on any web page.
  • Search a specific site by using site:
    • site:wardsworld.pbworks.com Kite Runner will return pages on my site that mention Kite Runner
    • site:.edu India water shortage will search educational sites for mention of India's water shortage issues
    • filetype:.pdf (or .doc or .ppt, etc.) will help you find specific file types (this can also be done from the advanced search


What Have You Learned About Search?

After you submit your responses to the below quiz, you will be able to view how others responded and see who was able to apply their new knowledge to search faster.


Additional Resources:


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How Do I Know I Have Reliable Source?


  • Research Tips

    • Always check your work
      • Validate the information by looking at multiple sources


  • Credibility =trustworthiness + expertise

    Strategies to determine trustworthiness and expertise:
    • Check the "About" section - look at who is publishing the site, the author's credentials, sponsoring organization, citations to other works. Use this to assess the bias.
    • The URL - is the web site from an organization you've hear of?
    • Type of page - is it someone's personal page?
    • Type of domain - .edu sites are generally more believable than some others
    • Where - is the site hosted in another country? e.g. .ru.cn.izetc
    • Is there a date and an author?
    • Do others cite this source? Use link:<the address> to see what links to a website


Resources for Teachers


  • Teachers can use these Google Certified Teacher developed lesson plans and modules to help teach students ways to search smarter. The lessons are not specific to any discipline which makes them easily adaptable to any content area. Additionally, all lessons come with a companion set of slides (and some with additional resources) to help you guide your in-class discussions.


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2. Make the WEB Work Harder:


Google Alerts

  • Create Alerts to send relevant news resources to your email inbox




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3. Using RSS Feeds to Make the WEB Come to You


What is RSS?

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, although some people say that it also refers to Really Simple Syndication.  News sites and blogs have simple text versions of their content, called RSS feeds, that users can subscribe to?  Why?  Since websites, news organizations, and blogs are always changing their content and adding articles, it can be very time consuming for us to constantly go back to a specific website and check for updates.  Instead, you can set up on website, an RSS Reader, that will collect all the feeds from your favorite websites.  You can check for updates for all your favorite news sites and blogs in one place rather than many, many places.


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What is an RSS Reader?


How do I Follow Websites and Writers?

Two easy ways to follow blogs and websites:

  • Look for this icon:

    • This icon can be found on most news websites and blogs.  It is an indication that the site has an RSS feed, and by clicking on the icon, you will be taken to a menu when you can select the reader you use.
    • According to CNET's Newbie Guide, what makes Google Reader one of the more user-friendly readers is that you can type any website url into your Google Reader and Google will search for the RSS feed for you. 
  • Build the subscriptions in your reader by looking at what writers you enjoy are reading.

    • Most bloggers keep a list of blogs they read on their site.  This is called a Blogroll.
    • Check out this amazing list of educational blogs to follow.


Why Use an RSS Reader to Research?

Just like teachers might use an RSS Reader to follow other teachers or learn more about particular methodologies, students can use an RSS Reader to follow the most current knowledge on the topics they research. For example, you assign your students a paper on the issues facing Haiti as a result of the recent earthquake.  During their research, they find the BBC's Country Profile of Haiti and the BBC Search Page for Haiti, as well as the website for the Daily Haitian Times and the UN News Source for Haiti. Rather than having to constantly go back to these sites to check for updates, creating a reader and subscribing to these sites makes following updates much easier.  This works especially well when students are researching current issues.


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4. Access Your WEB of Research Anywhere:


Online Bookmarking

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Using Delicious.com to Save Your Bookmarks Online



View more documents from Maggie Verster.


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5. So there you have it! Now you can research like the SPIDER!


Please take a moment to reflect on how you might use these tools in your classroom.





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