Effective Internet Search: Basic Tools and Strategies


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Formed decades ago from a small pool of data sources, the Internet has grown into a seemingly endless ocean of information—in which today’s young researcher can easily get lost. This video introduces strategic, study-related online search methods that teenage or college-level viewers may not be familiar with, especially if they’re accustomed to the more recreational side of the Internet.

Outlining ways to formulate initial questions about a topic, the program offers examples of frequently used search engines (from Google to specialized databases) and how to take advantage of them using keywords, quotation marks, Boolean operators, nesting, wildcard and truncation symbols, and other typed-in directives. Result-oriented topics are also featured, including the differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources; the best criteria for confirming the legitimacy of a particular Web site; and helpful techniques for searching within a site.

Video Segments

1. A Brief History. The launch of Sputnik in 1957 signaled a mass revival of scientific and technological research. The US military designed small data packets for sending within a network of computers. The Internet matured in the 70s and 80s.

2. Getting Started. Internet research falls into three categories: individual facts or data, report or review, and analysis. Before beginning a search, take these steps: 1) analyze the topic, 2) brainstorm, and 3) formulate questions to answer.

3. Types of Sources. There are hundreds and millions of websites. They can be categorized as popular, scholarly, or trade. Information comes from primary, secondary, and tertiary sources.

4. Basic Research Skills. Keywords are nouns and objects related to the topic. Unique identifiers such as names, titles, and dates yield the best results. Scholarly sources can be found through library databases. Search engines provide sources for general queries.

5. Advanced Research Tools: Boolean Operators. Using quotation marks can narrow results of a search. Logical or Boolean operators combine multiple keywords or phrases with the operators (AND, OR, NOT).

6. Advanced Research Tools: Symbols. Other ways to broaden search results include wild card and truncation symbols. Students learn how to use the asterisk and tilde to refine a search. Search engines provide advanced search options. Field searches are a useful option.

7. Advanced Research Tools. An essential issue in online research is credibility. Students learn what to look for to assess a website's credibility and what questions to ask to determine whether a site is factual, unbiased, and up to date.

8. Fast Facts and Terms to Remember. Before conducting research make sure to analyze a topic, brainstorm ideas, and formulate questions. Review all forms of published content. Determine types of sources needed. Use keywords, Boolean operators, and other search methods. Determine source credibility.


Grade: 6-8, 9-12

Effective Internet Search: Basic Tools and Strategies (DVD)
© 2011
Time: 22 Minutes

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