Searching the Internet

icon of an arrowclick to view the Google Scholar PresentationEvery traveler knows that once you reach your destination, there are local dangers that can ruin the experience. Confusing streets, pickpockets, language barriers, and unfamiliar customs are part of the annoyances and part of the fun of your trip. In many ways searching the web can be like maneuvering around a foreign locale. The twists and turns of hyperlinks can take you far off track. Unsubstantiated information, opinions, and fake facts can rob you of time and ruin the accuracy of your work.

Just as the well-prepared explorer can push through the jungle to find the glorious beauty of a hidden waterfall, the savvy web searcher can find the few pearls of scholarly and accurate information buried in the Internet.

Search Engines & Scholarly Search Engines
Most web users rely on search engines to find information. These include Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, Dogpile, and many others. Search engines use "natural language," which means that you can type in a phrase, sentence, or even a random string of words and find pages that match. The results from these searches may vary widely in their usefulness. Using the advanced search features will help you to improve your results.

    Advanced Search Features
  • Use quotation marks to search for the exact phrase. This is a great way to find articles by title (e.g. "A new approach to the economic analysis of nonstationary..."), poems by the opening line (e.g. "a bird came down the walk"), or web pages by a multi-word concept (e.g. "school choice", "dream analysis", "guerilla marketing", etc.).
  • Use the Advanced Search to search specific domains. You can search for sites ending in .edu or .gov, or limit a search to a specific organization's website.
  • Use modified Boolean operators. In search engines the AND is automatically applied, but you can add OR and NOT, although search engines may use their own specific symbols for these operators. Check the "search help" section.
  • Learn more about Finding Web sites (PDF).
  • Try different keywords. Try adding keywords that reflect the type of information you want or the source (e.g. statistics, annual report, Chicago public schools, etc.)
  • Search a specific site that fits your criteria. There are individual news sites, online journals, government agencies, associations, and online encyclopedias that have their own search functions.
  • Use a search engine specific to the type of material you want, such as a podcast search engine or a government search engine.

Some search engines are specific to the type of pages they search. There are several options for searching images, news, or directory information. Google also has some specialized search engines that are useful for academic research:

Google Scholar
Google Scholar only searches for scholarly articles and books. Very few are actually available in full text on the web, but you can set the Scholar Preferences to identify articles available in full text from Capella Library. If you have just a title or author name, Google Scholar can help you find the full citation of an article or identify other articles by a specific author. Learn more about Google Scholar & the Capella Library (PDF).

Google U.S. Government Search
Google U.S. Government Search searches web pages from state, local, or national governments. The U.S. Government search is a useful tool for finding statistics and research reports when you don't know which agency to search. It is a useful companion to USA.gov's federal government search tool (www.usa.gov).

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