Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Searching the Web More Efficiently

Does this graph accurately represent what your students do for their research papers?

Here are a few resources that they can use to find more, and better, online resources:

#1: Carrot2
Carrot2 is a "clustering search engine", which means that, on top of the regular list of results found on the right half of the screen, results are grouped for easier reference. Carrot2 offers three ways to shows those groups of results:

-as a Circle:

-as a Foam Tree:

-as Folders:

This clustering approach appeals to visual learners as well as both global learners (they have all the results showing at once and how they relate to one another) and analytical learners (results are divided into small chunks and relationships between each is easily defined). 

Carrot2 also pulls resources from the Web, Wikis and News as well as offers an image search, all using the results from the Bing search engine.

#2: SimilarSites

Just enter the URL of a website that you found helpful, and SimilarSites will find more like it! You can install the extension on your browser so that you only have to click on the SimilarSites button instead of going to the site, copy/pasting the URL and then click enter. 

One note: SimilarSites will find websites, not webpages. If for example you found a great article about your research topic (let's say that you are researching Abraham Lincoln) on the New York Times website, inputting the URL for that article will bring up websites for other reputable newspapers, and not other articles on Abraham Lincoln published by reputable newspapers. 

#3: Blekko

Blekko calls itself "the spam-free search engine", focusing on a smaller part of the Web, but choosing what they consider to be quality websites. They also organize those websites by topic, which you can search by using slashtags.

How do the slashtags work? You enter your search terms; let's use "New York". Using the slashtag "/travel" in the search bar: [New York /travel] will bring up websites about tourism in New York, and will bring different results than entering [New York /photography], for example.  

Blekko has a whole directory of slashtags to use from, divided into sections like: arts, business, culture, education, fashion, food, government, health, humanities, media, science, sports and more. 

You can create your own slashtags. You will need to register to Blekko (it's free), and then it will walk you through the creation of your slashtags.

#4: Search Commands 

Here is a small cheatsheet of the commands you can enter in Google or Yahoo! to find exactly what you need, including (but not limited to): 
-what websites linked to a certain page (valuable to see the reliability of a webpage);
-searching in a certain timeframe; 
-searching for a certain type of file (when searching for documents). 

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