Search Anything Related to Library and Information Science

Internet Searching


1. Introduction: Internet is a huge collection of information so it needs the search query to be specific; otherwise, it will retrieve some irrelevant results. Searching means finding or locating information through some search engines, directories, databases, etc. The search over Internet is interactive, provides post co-ordinate search facilities and produces more results at a higher speed at a reduced cost.
            One can search for most of the information over web by using the keyword that best describes his/her interest in any general purpose search engine like Google. By this, one can also locate a discussion group / forum / social network that match his/her interest. Before asking anyone for help, it is advisable to make it mandatory to search and spend some time over the web. It will help one to locate the information quickly, assist him/her and build his/her confidence.

2. Structure of Search Tools: Most search tools have a similar structure. Generally, all searching tools provide you an option in the form of search box to conduct a search. They may include in some form-
a) Form: A form to enter the keywords or queries.
b) Initiation of Search: A button which when click will begin the search.
c) Advance Search: Link to help pages regarding how to make an advance search, special features and others, and
d) Subject Categories: The option to browse the resources indexed by the search engine.

3. Search Strategies: To arrive at appropriate target, a user of a database or search engine should know about the search strategies that need to be followed. In the following paragraphs some such steps are listed out.
a) Step 1: Framing the Need by Sentence: Before making a search it is important to frame your need by appropriate sentences. For example: “Digital libraries of India”.
b) Step 2: Identifying Keywords: Find out the keywords or main concepts in the statement. In the above example the keywords will be <digital library> <India>.
c) Step 3: Identifying Synonyms and Variant Word Forms: Find out the synonyms / alternate spellings, and variant word forms of each keyword. In the above example the synonyms of <digital library> will be <Virtual Library>, <Library without wall>, and <Institutional Repository> and the synonyms of <India> would be <Bharat>.
d) Step 4: Selecting Appropriate Search Technique: At this moment, the user should look into the search techniques that likely to produce more relevant result for the query in hand. The user can also combine synonyms, keywords and variant word forms with Boolean operators or can choose from any of the other search technique available to him/her.
e) Step 5: Checking Spelling: Search engines return websites with words that match the query word(s). So at the last, it is better to check all the spellings before putting the query in the Search Engine.

4. Basic Points in Using the Search Engine: Kindly note the following basic points in using the search engines.
a) CaSe DOES not MaTTer: Most search engines do not recognize the differences in lower case or upper case or sentence case and treat everything equally i.e. A search for <indian capital> is the same as a search for <Indian Capital> in Google, Yahoo and Bing.
b) Singular and Plural are Different: Most search engines interpret singular keywords as singular and plural as plural. If you want plural forms only, make your keywords plural, otherwise put the singular version.
c) Variation in Wild Card: Wild card is represented by * or sometimes by a “?” mark in some search engines, while searching in search engines, kindly keep a note of it.
d) Variation in Boolean Logic: In case of Boolean logic some search engine treat <AND> as <*>, “OR” as “+” (plus) and “NOT” as “-” (minus). While making a search, kindly link your keywords with the proper Boolean logic symbol used by the particular search engine.
e) Punctuation are Ignored: Most punctuation, like !, (), [], which are not the part of a search operator are ignored when the user search in Google, Yahoo and Bing.
f) Spelling Does not Matter Most: Google, Yahoo and Bing's spell checker automatically uses the most common spelling of a given word, whether or not you spell it correctly.
g) Keeping SafeSearch on: SafeSearch should help you to avoid most of the adult content from appearing in your search results. One can “On” the safe search by going through Google (https://www.google.com/preferences) and in Bing (http://www.bing.com/account/general) pages. In Yahoo there is no option to turn on the Safe Search for sign out users. SafeSearch should remain set as long as cookies are enabled on your computer, although your SafeSearch settings may be reset if you delete your cookies.

5. Search Techniques in Search Engines: When the user knows precisely what he/she wants i.e. when user information need is fairly well defined he/she can use different search techniques like keywords, word truncation, range search, field level search, Boolean combination, word adjacency  / proximity operator, etc. In the following paragraphs, different search techniques are discussed that will be especially helpful in searching in Google. It may also prove to be effective in Yahoo and Bing. While going through the following paragraphs and making a search kindly ignore the triangular bracket “<” and “>”. These are only provided to you so that you can exactly know, what need to be entered in the search engine search box.
a) Weather Search: Search for weather to see the weather in your location or add a city name after weather to find weather in that area. Example: <weather>, <weather guwahati>.
b) Finding Definition: Put define in front of any word to find definition or dictionary meaning for that word. Example: <define university>.
c) Doing Calculations: Enter a math equation to see the answer, along with a calculator. Example: <34*70+20>.
d) Unit Conversions: Enter any conversion with an <in> in between. Example: <1 dollar in rupees>, <7 meters in centimeters>.
e) Sports: Search for the name of the team to see a schedule, game scores and such others facts. Example: <Indian Cricket Team>.
f) Quick Facts: Search for the name of a celebrity, location, movie, musician, company to see quick information on the right side of the page. Example: <Bhupen Hazarika>, <guwahati>, <sholay>.
g) Searching Social Media: Put @ in front of a word to search social media. For example: @badanbarman.
h) Searching Priced Item: Put $ in front of a number to find priced products in that price. For example: camera $400.
i) Search Hashtags: Put # in front of a word. For example: #lislinks
j) Boolean (Minus) or (Dash) or (Not) Search: Minus or dash tells the search engine to retrieve web pages containing one keyword but not the other. One can use – (minus) when he/she have a keyword that has multiple meanings. Example: <university -gauhati university>. This example instructs the search engine to return web pages about university but not web pages from Gauhati University. One has to put a minus sign just before words they don’t want.
k) Phrase Search: When a user is quite aware of all the words that occur in the same sequence in the relevant digital document, then he/she can use phrase (or proximity) search techniques. In such cases the search terms down the search results considerably. Phrase searching is a powerful search technique for significantly narrowing your search results, and it should be used as often as possible. Surrounding a group of words with double quotes tells the search engine to only retrieve documents in which those words appear side-by-side. Example: <“Library and Information Science Links”>, <“Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University”>
l) Searching With Range: Put 2 periods (..) between the numbers and add a unit of measure to distribute your search query within the range like dates, prices, and measurements. Example: <laptop $20000..$25000>.
m) Boolean OR Search: Linking search terms with OR (in all caps) (+) tells the Google search engine to retrieve web pages containing ANY of the keywords. When OR is used, the search engine returns pages with a single keyword, several keywords, and all keywords. So, OR expand the search results. Example: <Librarian OR Library>.
n) Website Search: The website search is especially used when one need to find something in a large site that does not have an internal search engine (if the site has an internal search engine then for the best result you should use it). With the site search technique, you can search all the pages at a website for keywords or phrases of interest. Example: <site:lislinks.com Badan Barman> or <site:.in Badan Barman>. This search technique is supported by Google, Yahoo and Bing.
A slightly different search technique for host like <"host:" lislinks.com PhD> can also be used to restrict the search to the lislinks.com hosting account.
o) Search for Related Pages that are Similar to a URL:  To find sites that are similar to a URL you already know, use the <related:> operator. Example: <related:netugc.com>. If you able to find a particular document useful, you can use the related operator to locate such other document over the web.
p) Searching Cached Pages: Google crawls the web and takes snapshots of each page as a backup in case the current page is not available. These pages then become part of Google’s “cache.” If you are seeing a cached page it means, you’ll seeing the previous version of the site that was stored in the server of Google. One can use the cache search feature when the active website is not available. The cached copy can be especially helpful if the site's server is down or the web page is no longer available. Example: <cache:lislinks.com>.
q) Title Search: In the title search, the search engine will receive an instruction to return web pages where a particular keywords or phrase appears in the title of the document. Searching effectiveness increases as one combine field searches with phrase searches and/or Boolean logic. For example, if one wanted to find information about “Five Laws of Library Science” written by Dr. S R Ranganathan, one could try for example: <title:“Five Laws of Library Science”> in Yahoo and Bing and <"title:" "five laws of library science"> in Google. Here in this case, the search engine will receive an instruction to return web pages where the phrase “Five Laws of Library Science” appears in the title. Please note that, there should not be any space between the colon (:) and the keyword.
r) Keyword Search: In this technique, the document available in the WWW is generally searched by using keywords that may appear in the document. Use of preposition, articles and such other words are avoided in this type of search. This search technique is most generally used over the web. Results from this method are often mixed and you may have to go through many results to find the site most useful to you. For keyword based search, the search strategy may include identifying keywords by breaking down the topic into key concepts. Example: <gauhati university>.
s) Boolean AND Search: Linking two or three keywords with Boolean AND (*) tells the search engine to retrieve the web page containing all the keywords. So, AND considerably limit the search results. Example: <OCLC AND Classify>.
t) Wild Card / Truncation / fill in the blank Search: When a user is aware of only some of the letters that are contained in the keywords/phrase then he / she can use wild card search technique to retrieve all the documents containing the words which again contain the particular letters stated by the user. In wild card search techniques the known letters are followed by an asterisk “*” or “?” for the unknown letters or words. The asterisk mark may be given in the left, right or in both sides of the known letters as the case or need may be. Use an asterisk (*) within a query as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms. Use with quotation marks to find variations of that exact phrase or to remember words in the middle of a phrase. Example: <a * saved is a * earned>, <Catalog*>.
u) Plan a train or bus trip: One can find the fastest route via public transit from one location to another by using “from”, “to” and “by” Search. When you search, you’ll find all sorts of information about public transit, which may include departure and arrival time, travel time to your destination, cost to get from one station to another, transfer time and so on. Example: <guwahati to dibrugarh>, <from guwahati to dibrugarh>, <guwahati to dibrugarh by road>.
v) Complex Search: A combination of the some of the popular search techniques can be used to retrieve more relevant results. Example: <“Classified Catalogue Code” AND “S. R. Ranganathan”>. Here, the phrase searching is combined with Boolean operator. The expression <Library AND (Acquisition OR Classification), will search for results matching the document of Library acquisition or classification.
w) Search for pages that link to a URL: Use the <link:> search operator when you want to know what websites are linked to a particular site of interest. Example: <link:lislinks.com>. Researchers use link searches for conducting backward citations. For example, if you have a webpage and you are wondering if anyone has put a link to your page or referred to your webpage on their website, you can use the link search. Presently, this search technique is abandoned by Google.
x) Advanced Search: For certain complex searches, you might want more control over the results that you see, in such cases try the Advanced Search (http://www.google.com/advanced_search) page of Google. You can also use search operators to generate many of these advanced searches right from the regular Google search box.

6. Searching in Different Platforms: Some search techniques that are specific to some platforms are listed below-
a) General Purpose Search Engine: A search engine is a program or information retrieval system designed to help one in retrieving a list of references or information, meeting a specific criterion from its own databases that are stored on a computer. Almost all the general purpose search engine supports the Boolean logic in some forms.
i) Google (http://www.google.com) Search Engine: Google has the largest database at 1.5 billion pages and is very adept at returning relevant results. Google uses mathematical formulas to rank a web page based on the number of “important” pages that link to it. Almost all the search techniques discussed above can be used with Google.
b) Natural Language Search Engine: Some search engine uses natural language search queries that means the user is free to use natural language query to retrieve the relevant result. The system will automatically ignore the unnecessary words. This is true in Ask.com (http://www.ask.com). Example: <Who is the Prime Minister of India>, to retrieve the name of the Prime Minister of India or to retrieve thousands of pages not containing the word “Who”.
c) Meta Search Engine: The content of search engines, indexes and databases generally vary. So, if the same search query is typed into several search engines then it is likely to produce different results. Because of this in searching a topic a user often wants to see results from various sources. One way to compare the results of several search engines is to type and retype a query into individual search engines one at a time. However, this can be very time consuming. A Meta searcher helps to make this task more efficient by providing a central location where the query is typed in once and the result can be obtained from multiple search engines. Example: Sputtr (http://www.sputtr.com/), etc.
d) Wiki Search Engine: A wiki is a type of editable website that allows users to add, remove, or otherwise edit and change most content very quickly and easily, sometimes without the need for registration by using relatively easy to use wiki syntax. The wikis are excellent source for the research scholars as they provide contents under creative commons license that can be used by research without asking for the authors for permission. Example: Wiki.com (https://www.wiki.com).
e) Blog Search Engine: Blog is a web based website where articles posted will automatically be arranged in reverse chronological fashion or in a chronological fashion. Blog increasingly considered as a substitute of the mainstream media for news services, consultants, etc. In recent times, a part of the literature search relies on internet and for a comprehensive list of resources over internet; the search should extend to blog also, as it contains the latest, up to the minute information on a given topic. The blog search engines have the facilities to retrieve result from specific part of the world or from a specific time frame. Example: Blogspot Blog Search (https://www.searchblogspot.com)
f) Image Search Engine: An image search engine used features from an image like name, size, aspect (tall, square, wide, panoramic), colour (black & white, transparent, blue, etc), type of image (face, photo, clip art, drawing, animation, etc.) to search for and identify similar images. Example: Google Images (http://images.google.co.in).
g) Video Search Engine: A video search engine is a web-based search engine which crawl the web for video content and provide an interface for the users to search the videos by entering any of the features available in the video like title, language, duration of the video, quality, publishing time and so on. Example: YouTube (http://www.youtube.com), Vimeo (https://vimeo.com), etc.
h) Database Searching: Searching the directory or database is entirely a new experience. One can search the directory or databases by the specific entry point, which the particular directory or database is using to search its records. In the database searching, one can also save his/her result in accordance to his/her requirement. Example: ScienceDirect (http://www.sciencedirect.com).
i) Institutional Repository Searching: Institutional Repository can be defined as the concept of capturing, managing and disseminating all the scholarly digital assets of an institute. Institutional Repositories are excellent source for finding out articles, dissertation, thesis, etc. The Institutional Repositories provide both searching and browsing options. The browsing options can be title, author, department or community and so on. Example: Shodhganga (http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in), etc.
j) E-book Search Engine: The E-book Search Engine search the web for the free ebooks for the user to download, read and enjoy. The E-book search engine can be searched by entering the title of the book, chapter, and text from the document, author/editor, publisher, etc. Example: JustFreeBooks (http://www.justfreebooks.info), etc.
k) E-journal Search Engine: The E-journal search engine search for the journal or the article published in journal. The articles can be searched by entering the title of the journal, title of the article, text from the article, ISSN of the journal, author and publisher and so on. Example: DOAJ (http://www.doaj.org), JSTOR (http://www.jstor.org), etc.

7. Conclusion: Most of the search engine or databases often return thousands of results. So, to use search engines / databases effectively, it is essential to apply techniques that narrow results and push the most relevant pages to the top of the results list. Knowledge of search strategies boost search engine / database performance. Any user by spending a few minutes clarifying his / her need, can increase the chances of finding relevant information over internet and without proper search strategies or techniques, finding what you need will be difficult task
A web page is composed of a number of fields, such as host, title, site, etc. In case of field search techniques the webpages are searched by using the words contained in its field. Field searching is one of the most effective techniques for narrowing results and getting the most relevant websites listed at the top of the result page.
The more care and thought you put into your search strategy, the more relevant your search results will be. A well designed search strategy will save your time in the long run, allow you to search for information in many different places, and help you to find a larger amount of relevant information. Different strategies work better for different people and so there is no need to follow every step listed above. One can try himself/herself a few different techniques to see what works best for him/her.



How to Cite this Article?
APA Citation, 7th Ed.:  Barman, B. (2020). A comprehensive book on Library and Information Science. New Publications.
Chicago 16th Ed.:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. Guwahati: New Publications, 2020.
MLA Citation 8th Ed:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. New Publications, 2020.

Badan BarmanBadan Barman at present working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, Gauhati University, Guwahati-781014, Assam, India. He is the creator of the LIS Links (http://www.lislinks.com) - India’s most popular social networking website for Library and Information Science professionals. He also created the UGC NET Guide (http://www.netugc.com) and LIS Study (http://www.lisstudy.com) website.

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