Searching Online


We all probably think we can find information on the internet very easily and for most things we probably can but taking a little extra time using some of the following hints and tips will make sure that you will be getting the right information rather the quick information. enlightened

Search vs. Research


      Using the internet or books to prove something to be true, i.e. a fact! 


      Involves reading, analysing, assessing and interpreting information. 

Whilst both searching and researching involves a little bit of thought about the words we use, it is worth spending a little more time using some of the tools on offer to ensure you accurately and effectively researching your topic. 

What words best describe your topic? What words are you going to type into your search engine box?

 All search engines work by looking at the words you type in the search box and attempts to find the websites where most of the words appear, and not neccessarily where they appear next to one another (will cover this later). It is therefore little point in writing in questions or using conversational words in a search box. Yes, I know that there are search engines like "Ask Jeeves" but they still work in the same way. It is not like you are asking a friend a question so you don't have to phrase it in that way. That being said, some of the websites are changing the way in which they interpret the information you put in the search box just because they know so many of us ask them questions!

What type of information do you need?  

By now most of us will know how to search for an image only in a search engine but how many of us know that by using the advanced search options in many search engines we can limit our search to looking for ONLY what we need, for example, a map, video or graph. 

Does the information you need have a life span on it?

All search engines will allow you to look for information on websites that have been UPDATED within a certain time frame. For example, in Modern Studies, if you were looking for information about a particular Election or you needed up to date stastics for a argumentative essay you can specify that you only want to look at websites that have been updated in the last 24 hours, week, month or year or custom period of time.

Are you researching information about something that is only relevant to the UK or world wide?

When looking at a list of websites you can sometimes guess where the websites orignates from, for example, if it ends in then it has been created in the UK but the .com and .org websites may not be so easy to tell so it makes a lot more sense that if you are looking for UK only information to use the advanced search options of your search engine to specifiy this. A tell tale sign of copying and pasting for examiners and teachers is when pupils have copied an american spelling from an american website and not corrected it!

Other hints and tips for searching

Boolean Searching - A strange name for a not so strange tool. AND    OR    NOT 


  this AND that
  narrows the search by only finding information that includes both words




  this OR that
  widens the search by including either word




this NOT that
  narrows the search by excluding a word
for example 

Think of it as being able to say to the computer what I need is:

Castles OR monuments AND Scotland NOT England

Phrase Searching
  •   Exclamation/speech  marks - At the very top of this page I spoke about the way in which search engines look for the websites where most of the words you are looking for appear in a website. To further refine your search using speech marks at either end of a phrase will make the search engine only look for the websites where the words appear next to each other in a website rather than appearing anywhere. You may think this happens anyway without using the speech marks because most of the time the websites that appear at the top of the "Hit List" will be ones where these words appear together but you will be surpised how more accurate and useful this little tool can be when looking for more specific information.e.g.“Homelessness in Scotland”.
  •  There are a lot of websites that pay for their websites towards the top of a hit list because they know that we all read the first one on the pagesmiley