Sujet: Web Research Guide part 4: Advanced search techniques for the web
De: "Elsevier, Sandra de Gelder"
Date: Wed, 21 May 2003 18:13:59 +0200 (CEST)

Web Research Guide part 4: Advanced search techniques for the web

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Use advanced techniques and tools to find exactly what you need, as quickly as possible

Subject areas and information types Expert opinion: the 'cited by' option
Search specific parts of a document Advanced search: more than Boolean
Summary of search engine conventions Refining your search results

Dear MR chapuis,
The major search engines offer a range of advanced features to help you pinpoint the information you want, while excluding content irrelevant to your subject area. In this email we look further than the common Boolean search options most search engines offer.

Tip of the week: Search within specific subject areas and information types

Scirus, the search engine for science information only, allows you to limit your search to specific academic subjects and information types. You can search for items like patents, conferences and scientist homepages, by selecting the box beside the relevant information type. You can also choose to search in any number of selected academic subjects by selecting the box beside the relevant subject area.

To run a search for 'Hale-Bopp' that is restricted to astronomers' homepages only, you should:
  • Select the Scirus Advanced Search menu
  • Enter 'Hale-Bopp' in the search box
  • Tick the 'Astronomy' box in subject areas
  • Tick the 'Scientist homepages' box in information types
Try this search on Scirus:

Astronomy Scientist homepages

Tip: Restrict your search to specific parts of a document

Some search engines can limit your search to specific areas, such as the document title, URL or domain. You can use this to restrict your search to certain domains, such as web sites from the United Kingdom (.uk), educational institutions (.edu), or government sites (.gov).

To find web pages about Hale-Bopp from educational institutions only, you should search for: hale-bopp

Try this search on Google:

Useful resources

Search engine summary
Not all search engines offer the same range of advanced search options. Many don't allow you to limit your search to specific subject areas. Some use slightly different forms of Boolean operators (e.g. some search engines use AND NOT instead of NOT). For a summary of the different conventions of the major search engines, see the excellent guide from search engine guru, Greg R. Notess:

Click here to find an extensive list of advanced search options - including Boolean - that are offered by non-specialised search engines.

Advanced tip: Use the experts to evaluate your results

The ScienceDirect 'Cited by' option is an excellent way to see the impact and importance of a particular article in your subject area. Simply select the 'Cited by' link when viewing any article, and all available articles that cite it will be listed.

To try this tool, follow the link below and select the 'Cited by' option to see other articles which cite this one. Note: to use the 'Cited by' option you must have access to ScienceDirect via your institute.

Tip: Refining your results

Several search engines offer a 'refine search' option. Though this is a tool that often offers valuable suggestions, it is rarely used by search engine users.

When you run a search with Altavista, it automatically offers you a list of refinement terms under the search box on the results page. By clicking on one of the suggested terms, your search results will be refined according to that particular term or keyword. By clicking on >> next to the suggested terms, you can replace the keyword you chose with the suggested term. Check the results for Hale Bopp here

Try this seach on Altavista:

Advanced tip: Advanced search means more than Boolean

The advanced search option many search engines offer, often covers much more than Boolean operators. The combination of Boolean operators with other advanced search options, is a powerful tool for pinpointing exact information. On, you can find a list of features that non-specialised search engines offer. Specialised search resources often offer more specialised features. Amongst a broad range of advanced search options, ScienceDirect offers a specific author search tool and a search title tool.

To find articles about 'Hale-Bopp' by a specific author (in this example, Russo), you should:
  • Select the ScienceDirect Search menu
  • Enter the term: Hale-Bopp
  • Select the AND Boolean operator from the drop down menu
  • Enter the author's name, 'Russo' and select the content field 'Author' from the drop down menu on the right

Click here to check the results of this search on ScienceDirect.

Next week: Learn how to uncover valuable article abstracts and indexes. There is much more available on the Web than you may think, but you have to know where to look...


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About ScienceDirect
ScienceDirect provides online access to more than 1,800 journals, representing over 4 million full-text articles. Every article is available in seamlessly linked, fully searchable html format, as well as paginated PDF. ScienceDirect also offers a range of email alerts, enabling you to set up personalized updates that automatically notify you of the latest article citations, search results and journal issues.

Find out more at
About the Web Research Guide
The guide consists of ten weekly emails focused on specific areas of web research. Each email is illustrated with subject-specific examples so that you can start using the research tips immediately. The tips cover a broad range of topics, from finding hidden information online, to locating expert directories and setting up subject-specific alerts of the latest news. The Web Research guide includes contributions from research scientists, information professionals and search engine specialists.

For more information about this guide,
click here.
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