The quickest way to find out about a topic on the Web is to use a search engine. All
search engines search for words. This means that if you want to search for information on
a topic, you must first identify it by a word or combination of words called a 'search
string'. Often, your first search string will give you too many or too few results. When
this happens, you have to narrow or broaden your search by using another search string.
In most search engines you can also specify other options to limit your search. For
example, you may be able to search for web sites in only one part of the world. Before you
use a search engine, it is a good idea to read any help that is offered.
There are two main kinds of search engine: directories and indexes.
Directory search engines organize web sites by topic. They are good to
use when you are searching for information on general topics. Sites are submitted by their
owners and sometimes reviewed. Yahoo and Excite are two well-known directory search engines. There
are two ways to use a directory search engine: either follow the menu system until you
find the topic you are looking for, or type it into the search box and choose the most
appropriate listings page from the results.
|Task 1 - Follow this link to Yahoo and try to find a list of sites on psychology. Is this the page you found? If
you are taking a course in Psychology add a bookmark for this
page to your Internet Explorer Favourites menu now. Search for the topics of other courses
you are taking and add bookmarks for those too.
Index search engines search for words on web pages. They are good to use
when you are looking for something specific, such as the name of a person. Hotbot or AltaVista
are two well-known index search engines. If you search for a general topic such as
psychology, you will get more results than you can handle. You will need to narrow down
your search string. Even if your search string is quite specific, you are likely to get a
lot of irrelevant results. You will have to look through the results carefully to find the
sites that are useful to you.
|Task 2 - Follow this link to Hotbot and search for a topic that you have covered in
one of your courses. How many results did you get? Were they all related to the topic you
For more detailed information on search engines, we recommend Learn the Net. Look for the
section called 'Digging for Data'.
- Choose a topic within one of your courses and search for information on it using two
different search engines. Write a short report on your search.
- If you like, you can download the Microsoft Word
Search Engine Report Form and write your report by answering the questions you find in
- If you're not sure how to do this, read the Turbotool on Using Microsoft Word Forms.
- If you intend to include information from the web in an essay or assignment,
you will need to know how to write bibliographical references to web sites. You will find
out more about this on the page on Notes and references.