Strategies for Finding World Wide Web Resources Bio14


World Wide Web sites can be excellent sources of information that supplement traditional sources such as print encyclopedias, journals, edited volumes, etc. And, of course, they are unsurpassed for the delivery of multimedia information. You won't always have a list of websites that are relevant to your research, so you should learn how to use search engines, which function as roadmaps, allowing you to search for and find web sites on any topic.

Using Search Engines Effectively
  1. There are hundreds of search engines, but you may want to limit yourself to some of the most commonly-used ones, all of which you will find on the Tisch website

  2. IMPORTANT: All search engines index differing amounts of the Web. If you use only one search engine, you won't find as many websites as if you try several. It's like fishing: if you only fish a one-yard length of the shore of a 3-mile lake, you lose out on all the fish that may be hiding in coves, in shady sections, or anywhere else outside your narrow fishing spot. Take some time, look around, be patient.

  3. While every search engine has its own set of rules, many (Scirus and Google among others) use the following conventions.
    Example: to search for food sources for wombats, you should input +"food source*"+wombat*-"hairy nosed".

    • The plus sign indicates that the words or phrases proceeding it must be found in the website.
    • The quotation marks indicate that the surrounding words as a phrase. You could substitute the quotation marks with a semicolon between words.
    • The minus sign excludes words that immediate proceed it, in this case hairy-nosed, which will exlude all websites that cover the hairy-nosed wombat. This strategy can be troublesome, as it can prevent you from seeing sites that may be very useful.
    • The asterisk is the truncation symbol, which broadens your search results to wombat, wombats, wombatidae, etc.


  4. Search engines like Scirus and Google allow you to complete an easy-to-use form in order to construct a highly sophisticated search. At the homepage, click on "Advanced Search" to see the form that you can complete. Scirus' form allows for more science-related customization than Google's.

  5. The value of a search engine like Yahoo is its directory structure. Try it yourself by starting at the Yahoo homepage and then going to sciences, biology, ecology, in that order and see what you find. Taking advantage of directories can be much more efficient for finding websites than constructing a search in Yahoo.

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