Friday, 17 October 2008

Advanced search strategies

As more data stored on search engine database, so it becomes more difficult to be sure you find the right answers appear at the top of the list. However, there are some ways to minimise the amount of unwanted results by following some simple rules. Here are three very simple rules that will often produce better search results:

1) Identify a string of words that need to be present.

2) Choose a word combination that is unique to the subject, and put inverted commas around it to indicate that the two words must appear together in order.

3) If you are looking for an authoritative document, it is more likely to be in the form or a pdf. Therefore select pdf as the document type

4) Use the minus sign to remove and words that you do not want.

5) Try putting a key word in the URL. (Unfortunately, Google does not allow you to “multitask” by having one word in the URL and a different word combination to be found in the PDF using their menus. But you can do that if you know the conventions.)

6) Use adaptive hierarchical strategies to achieve the desired outcome.

Here are two examples:

Example 1: Max Colheart (or was it Coltheart or Colhard or Colthard?) wrote an academic paper about lexicons a few years ago, I think. What was it called and how can I get a copy? (NB In an academic paper, the name is more likely to appear as Coltheart M.)

Max Colheart lexicon filetype:pdf

Attempt 1 gave me 24 results, which seem too few.

Google asked “Did you mean: Max Coltheart lexicon filetype:pdf”

Coltheart give 1750 and is therefore more likely.

Then I tried "Max Coltheart" cv – I found four papers, and the one I want (Coltheart, M. (2004) Are there lexicons? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 57A, 1153-1171.)

Example 2: There was a UK government sponsored report a few years ago by some professor about learning styles who said that most of them had no validity. If I remember correctly, it had a blue cover. Where can I get a copy?

This was found first time with: Professor “learning styles” filetype:pdf

Keywords: Search, Google

1 comment:

tanyaa said...

Search engines are the best tools to use when you are looking for very specific information or when your research topic has many facets. Usually when you need information on a very detailed or multifaceted subject, a search engine will give you not only more information, but also the most precise and up-to- date information possible.