World Wide Web
|getting started||search strategy||searching||evaluate, cite, write|
The World Wide Web (WWW) is a vast electronic network of information and one can easily get lost trying to find quality information. To avoid wasting time when researching it is important to approach the Web as you would any other information tool: have a search strategy and be ready to adjust it as you learn more about what/how much is available on your topic.
Although it is important to think critically about any information you encounter, the Web poses special challenges because the quality of information available through the Web is quite uneven. The section on evaluating information will provide you with some useful tips for dealing with Web-based information sources.
When to search the WWW:
The Web is not always the best place to start researching your topic. In order to determine whether this is the case or not, ask yourself some questions: What am I looking for? Where else might I find this information?
Generally speaking it is recommended that you begin your search in a library catalogue or a journal database--something that you know has reputable information. Sometimes as you research you will discover information gaps that the Web may be able to fill.
Searching the World Wide Web:
The most common way to locate information
on the Web is to use a search engine. A search engine uses a "spider"
or "robot" that travels continually from server to server
all around the Web. It scans URLs, page titles, and, sometimes, even
all the words and images within pages, and builds up an index. There
are many different search engines. No search
engine or directory indexes all of the Web. They vary in their search
functions and in their coverage of the Web.
You can apply much of what you have learned about using Boolean operators and constructing a search statement to WWW searching. The most important thing is to look at the search engine's help files so that you will know what operators and search functions it supports. A Web search typically retrieves a large number of results, many of which are not relevant to the research topic. You will need to evaluate and adjust your search statement as you go.
Important note for searching the Web: Should you capitalize or not capitalize the Boolean Operators? In most journal databases you don't need to worry about this: the database will accept or as well as OR. However, search engines can differ quite a bit. As a general practice it is recommended that you capitalize your Boolean Operators because some search engines such as Google and AltaVista require capitalization of the operator OR.
To learn more about WWW searching:
Try using Google or AltaVista to search the WWW for information on your research topic.