Sujet: Web Research Guide part 9: Choose the right search engine
De: "Elsevier, Sandra de Gelder"
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 20:41:46 +0200 (CEST)

Web Research Guide part 9: Choose the right search engine

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Google's strengths Alltheweb's strengths
Scirus' strengths Compare search engine features
Science news links Clustering for a better overview
ScienceDirect's strengths Directories compiled by experts


Dear MR chapuis,
Search engines offer a range of advanced features to help you pinpoint the information you want. However, search engines vary in the way they index the Web, the way they present the results and the features they offer for advanced queries or for refining your search. To search effectively online, it is important to explore the different strengths of the major search engines, and to evaluate which one is most appropriate for the information you wish to find. Learn to use the strengths, sources and advanced features of the major search engines.

Tip: Google

Google is a good place to start if you want to find relevant results for a general search query. It indexes more of the Web than most other major search engines, and its ranking technology often enables you to quickly identify web pages relevant to your query. In addition, Google:

  • Searches documents available online, such as PDF, Word and PowerPoint files. For more on this see
  • Saves copies of millions of web pages. So if Google can find the web page you are looking for, chances are high you can see cached copy of the page, even if the page no longer exists or has been recently modified.
  • Enables you to set certain search preferences and save them for future use, including the number of results to show per page and the interface language. For more on this, see
  • Offers a subject directory, which is a useful way to start a more general search within a particular category. See
  • Allows you to restrict your search to images, Google groups (discussion groups), the Google subject directory or relevant news items by using the tabs at the top of the page.
Try a search in Google:

Tip: Scirus

Scirus, the search engine for science, covers over 135 million science-related pages, allowing you to search both free and journal sources relevant to science, technology and medicine. It is a good place to start if you want to restrict your search to scientific results from particular academic areas. In addition, Scirus:

  • Retrieves peer-reviewed articles from access-controlled databases that most search engines do not index.
  • Allows you to search for the title of a particular journal or article.
  • Enables you to limit your search to specific academic subjects and information types, such as patents, conferences and scientist homepages.
  • Lets you save your search results, or email them directly to a colleague.
  • Presents a list of associated keywords for a particular search, allowing you to further refine your search query.
Try a search in Scirus:

Useful resources

Find the latest scientific news

A number of search engines offer science-specific news links. These are of particular value for locating the latest 'hot' topics relevant to science, technology and medicine. These search engines also offer a useful feature enabling you to restrict a search to news stories only.

Tip: Use ScienceDirect to search the full text of scientific journals

ScienceDirect gives you access to the content of more than 1,800 peer-reviewed journals, and provides logged-in users with a range of search options allowing you to click immediately through to articles of interest. In addition, ScienceDirect:

  • Provides access to over four million articles and over 60 million abstracts from all fields of science.
  • Allows you to access multimedia features not available in print journals, such as: video files, audio files, Excel spreadsheets and Word files.
  • Enables you to search for a particular author, journal or article.
  • Helps refine your search by allowing you to restrict your query to certain content areas such as: all full-text sources, all journals, a particular journal,
    a particular issue of a journal or a specific article.

For more information about ScienceDirect tools, click here.

Tip: Search using AlltheWeb

AlltheWeb was ranked second behind Google in the Search Engine Watch Awards 2002. It offers a useful query rewrite feature, which automatically tries to improve your results by rewriting search queries and including common phrases that are detected from the AlltheWeb phrase dictionary. In addition, AlltheWeb:
  • Indexes multimedia, Audio and FTP files, as well as PDF and Word files.
  • Supports searching in 49 different languages.
  • Clusters related queries and relevant multimedia links coveniently at the end of the search results page.

Choose a specific geographic region 

Try this search in Alltheweb Advanced:

Note: getting search results from a specific geograhic region is just one example of Alltheweb Advanced Search. Go to AlltheWeb Advanced Search to see all the advanced search features of AlltheWeb.

Useful resources

Summary of search engine features

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 clustered results for an overview of relevant search terms

A number of search engines offer a useful feature which clusters the results to your initial search request. This gives you a quick overview of the range of search queries you can investigate for a particular subject.

Vivisimo automatically categorizes search results into hierarchically sorted category folders, allowing you to easily explore various aspects of a particular subject and click directly through to web pages of interest.
Try this search in Vivisimo:
WiseNut automatically generates categories that are semantically related to the words in your query. Cluster categories appropriate to your search are given at the top of the search results page. WiseNut also presents search results clustered by site, which allows you to link through to a list of all relevant pages on a particular web site.

Try this search in Wisenut:
Webbrain helps you think in clusters by displaying a visual overview of related subjects. By positioning categories of these subjects above, beside and below the search term you inserted, it shows whether these categories are related to the topic on a higher level, on a lower level (subcategories) or in another way.

Find out how it works on: (if available)

Useful resources

Directories compiled by expert editors

The Librarians' Index to the Internet is a searchable, annotated subject directory of Internet resources selected and evaluated by librarians. Every site entered in the database is reviewed first, which means that it provides a well-organized point of access for reliable, librarian-selected Internet resources.
It also maintains an active update policy, which keeps the number of outdated links to a minimum.

Try this search in
The Open Directory is an ambitious project that allows expert editors to select relevant sites in their subject area, and collates these sites to offer a precise and up-to-date list of subject-specific links. The Open Directory is currently the largest human-directory of the Web, with more than 55,000 editors covering over 3.8 million web sites.

For more information, see

Next week: Explore specialist links for more detailed suggestions and examples of web research resources.
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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