Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday Tech Tips: Improve your searches

Telling you upfront: I do not have a problem with Googling or Wikipedia to get your search started.  This can be useful when you need to narrow down your topic, and often times using these tools will help you find specific search terms.

But there are Carnival cruise ships of unsubstantiated info on the Internet -- how do you know when you've got the good stuff?  There are sites designed to steer you towards articles and information with scholarly cred.*

Here's some show & tell -- I'll use the same subject search for all sites.

Check it out: I've got sources for general information about Syria plus breaking news articles from established news agencies.  If you click over to Documents at the top of the page, you are connected to full-text articles and recorded data.  There's also a sidebar for image results, and the whole site has a clean and direct format.

A neat feature of this site is that you can select your results using the check boxes and then share them on social media, mark them as favorites, or import them straight to your Google docs (see where I circled and drew the arrow?  Yep, just like that).

Try and tell me that is not cool.
This one is a bit trickier.  Google Scholar will create a listing of published information, but may not provide the text itself.  It can hook you up with libraries who can track down your search results, whether they are books, articles, academic papers, etc.

I encourage you to take your time with this one so when the time comes to use it for real you won't explode with frustration. 

Start page.

If you click on the search bar you open up an advanced search window.

I narrowed my search by entering subject terms and a date range.

And voila!

Just keep in mind that Google Scholar should not be counted on as a last-minute research tool: it can direct you to where the answers are recorded, but you may have to do more work to get the actual research material in front of your eyeballs.

Good research takes practice just like everything else, and we librarians are here to help you!  Hopefully this made sense, but if you have questions, let me know.

*Props to Byrne, Richard . "Beyond Google: Alternative Search Tools." School Library Journal February 2013: 15. Print.


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