Homework Help - Search & Cite Site
Organizing Your Search: Engines, Citations, and Bots
Integrating U. S. History with Educational Technology
Deborah T. Aufdenspring
New Technology High School
You might find this page helpful by itself, or you might want to
open its two companion pages: Homework Help - U.
S. History and Homework Help - Chat with Ms. A.
Then you can flip back and forth amongst them with your browser by using
the "Back" and "Forward" buttons.
If you are going to search the Internet, I've included below some reminders
of the subjects we've talked about in class. Text and links are divided
into six categories:
ORGANIZING YOUR SEARCH - A reprise of our classroom
SEARCH ENGINES - Including image search and
Spanish language engines.
HANDY TOOLS - Including Spanish/English, English/Spanish
BOOKS ON-LINE - Including some handy reference
BOTS - Are "bots" useful in research?
CITATIONS - I don't accept papers or projects
without proper citations.
SEARCHING ON THE INTERNET - A tongue-in-cheek
You are free to organize your search and use whatever search engine you
wish. However, you are not free to simply use information you've found in
your assignments without citing the source. You also need to remember the
copyright laws we have discussed. Don't forget the terms of our Acceptable
Organizing Your Search
You can save a lot of time by organizing your search ahead of time. Browsing
is fun and educational, but if you do too much of it, your assignment will
Decide upon the words for which you will search. Decide upon the type of
search engine you will use. Find out how the search engine works
(almost all of them have help links that will tell you). Decide how to string
your search words together (with "+", or "AND" or "OR",
etc.) and then search. In general, "+" in front of a word will
include it,. "-" in front of a word will exclude it. In Boolean
searches, "AND" will expand your search, "AND NOT" will
limit it. Quotation marks around your search words will make them a phrase
that will be searched for as a phrase. But these conventions differ. Again,
find out how the search engine works by finding its help section.
After examining the search results, decide if you need to narrow or expand
your search by adding or subtracting search words. If you aren't getting
any useful information, perhaps you need to decide on different search words
and try again. If you still aren't finding the information you need, try
another search engine. Different engines have access to different information,
although much will overlap.
The public library at Berkeley has bookmarked a couple of documents that
might help you.
a search engine - This page describes a number of the most popular search
engines and what type of search the library thinks they do best.
What is a search engine,
how does it work - This page describes how to get the most out of a
Search Engines You Might Want to Use
Perhaps the fastest way to get to a search engine is to click on the
"search" buton at the top of your Netscape (or other) browser.
All of these engines work just fine. After you've found engines you like,
you might want to bookmark them on your browser.
Remember that search words can be entered in languages other than English,
such as Spanish (Espanol). Do not use accent marks, such as tilde signs,
My favorites (which don't have to be yours) amongst general engines are:
- I've been using this since it debuted. It takes some thought, though,
to phrase your search in such a way as to not get 100,000 finds.
HotBot - Newer, larger and faster (or
so they claim) than AltaVista, with a lot of the same virtues and faults.
I'm using it more and more.
Inference - A parallel engine
that uses a number of other search engines for you at the same time. Unlike
other parallel engines, it collates all of the finds and throws out the
duplicates. It also groups the finds by the type of server (commercial,
educational, etc.) and geographic location (Europe, North America, California,
etc.) This is helpful, and I expect to use it a lot, but I don't think it
is doing as extensive a search as HotBot and Alta Vista.
Specialized Engines search particular subjects or data banks. There are
hundreds of them. Below are links to libraries of specialized engines, and
a few particularly useful ones:
Beaucoup - This page has categorized
links to hundreds of search engines, specialized and general. It also offers
foreign language translations, including Espanol, of the major engines.
de Busqueda - Netscape offers a wide selection of search methods in
Library of Congress - Searches
all Library of Congress web pages and gopher menus.
outline of American History - Searches an outline of U.S. history (from
the Revolution to Reconstruction and beyond) for keywords.
Image Surfer - Enter your
keyword(s) and get back miniature versions of pictures that correlate with
your keywords. The engine only finds images that have filenames and whose
filenames include your keyword. Click on the miniatures to access the full
image on its web page. We didn't have much luck finding any images with
this engine that related to the haiku topics, but you might do better.
Acronyms and Abbreviations
- If you run across acronyms (e.g., WPA, CINCPAC, etc.) in your search,
here is a handy site that will explain the meaning for you.
English/Spanish Dictionary - This is a handy cross-language dictionary
if you run across a Spanish or English word you don't understand. This same
site also has cross-language dictionaries for Italian, German, French and
On-line Books Page - A
list from Carnegie Mellon University of all the books that have been converted
to digital text and that are available on your computer.
Bartleby Library at Columbia
University - Easily accessible books including reference and works of
fiction. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is here and searchable. If
you're having writing problems, Strunk's The Elements of Style and
Fowler's The King's English are also here.
Bots are little programs that you give set of directions to and then
set loose on the internet. Search bots that constantly seek information
for you might be useful in your research. If you think you may want to try
this, Botspot has a number of these search
bots. Go to their homepage and then click on the "search" icon.
Then find the list of search bots. Pick the bot that seeems like it will
do what you want. Make sure it's a free bot, though. Some search bot
searches cost money.
A quick review of what we have discussed in class:
Citations: How to Cite the Information You Find
In citing World Wide Web sources, cite the author's name (if known), the
title of the work in quotation marks, the title of the complete work (if
applicable), the http address, and the date you visited the site.
An example (using this page): Aufdenspring, Deborah T. "Homework Help
- Search and Cite Site". Ms. A's Class - Deborah Aufdenspring.
For gopher sites, FTP transfers, e-mail and other electronic sources, review
the citation styles at the MLA
Style Sheet site.
Searching on the Internet:
A tongue-in-cheek refresher course by Deborah Aufdenspring
You know the scenario. Your assignment is to write an epistolary of letters
between a soldier in WW1 and his mother. You've got to find some accurate
historical details to include in your letters. So, you go to a search engine,
Excite, or AltaVista or Yahoo or whatever. Mostly,
you click the "Net Search" button on Netscape Navigator
then go to whatever search engine looks good. (Guess what! Those search
engines pay lots of money to Netscape and Microsoft to appear when you click
the "Net Search" button. They're there because they paid - not
necessarily because they're good.)
Now you have a search engine. What do you type in? Hmmm ? ? ? How about:
letters, epistolary, WWI, and mother? Yeah. That works. So Yahoo give you
back 47,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 search results - everything with WWI,
mother, epistolary and letters in it. What went wrong ? ? ? ? ? Why did
you not get a tidy little packet of letters written by a soldier in WW1
? ? ? ? What a lame search engine! What a lame Internet navigator! What
a lame assignment!
OK. You're not that stupid, but maybe you've forgotten some basics. Here
they are. Tattoo them in your brain cells. Frame this paper. Spend the next
6 months memorizing this stuff. I don't care. Whatever works. Follow these
steps and you will no longer tear your hair out over Internet searches.
Step 1: Do the background reading in your textbook and write down
whatever words look like they are important. Textbooks call them "key
words;" so do search engines. What does that tell you? These words
Step 2: Really - do the background reading. You don't know what you're
looking for if you don't do the reading. If your textbook doesn't have much
background, get another book. Read. Read. Read.
Step 3: Decide on a search engine. Some of the best ones do not appear
when you click the "Netsearch" button on Netscape. Remember Inference
- it's good; it's fast, and it's a parallel search engine (It searches many
other search engines at the same time): http://m5.inference.com/ifind/
There is a folder near the handouts that has analyses and rankings of search
engines. Great reading. You'll love it.
Step 4: Go to the help section of the search engine you've decided
on. It will tell you how to search. Adopt a search engine. Decide on one
or two search engines that are your favorites. Copy their help pages to
a MS Word document and print them out. Keep them forever for reference.
Here are some general hints:
1. If you want to search on all the words, keep them together with
quote marks. For example, don't enter: World War One. Enter "World
2. If you want World War One diaries try "World War One" + diaries.
Or, "World War One" and diaries.
3. If you want World War One, but you don't want weapons, try "World
War One" - weapons or "World War One" not diaries
The key here is to focus on good key words, which words you now know,
because you did your background reading!
Step 5: If you get too few returns from your search, broaden the
search by eliminating some key words.
Example 1: If you searched for "World War One" + diaries + "United
States", eliminate "United States." If the search still returns
too few articles, eliminate diaries. (Notice that "United States"
was in quotes so that every article with "United" in it and every
article with "states" in it didn't come up.
If you get too many returns, do just the opposite. Add key words
until your search returns are a reasonable number.
Step 6: Go to the next pages in your search engine. Most search engines
return searches 10 items (more or less) per page. The bottom of the page
has additional search results. Go to them. Below is what the bottom of an
Alta Vista page looks like.
http://kali.murdoch.edu.au/hfilm/BOMBAY.html - size 34K - 17 Jun 96
p. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 [Next] (These are the the additional pages. Click
them for more information.)
Surprise . Legal . FAQ . Add URL . Feedback . Text-Only
Step 7: Be real patient. Almost no search will return a completed assignment
for you. It takes time and cutting and pasting and note taking, and all
those things. Be ready to take notes, think, and put information together.
You might even have to take notes with a pencil and a paper. That's OK.
Step 8: Know that it's OK if you donít get this the first time.
I know that in English/History it's hard to get help, but we will
try hard to get to you if you do need help. Ask. Whimper. Yell. Demand.
Keep trying. If all else fails - e-mail us and tell us to get to you before
the next ice age.
Step 1: Do the background reading in your textbook and write down whatever
words look like they are important.
Step 2: Really - do the background reading.
Step 3: Decide on a search engine.
Step 4: Go to the help section of the search engine you've decided on.
Step 5: If you get too few returns from your search, broaden the search
by eliminating some key words.
Step 6: Go to the next pages in your search engine.
Step 7: Be real patient. Be ready to take notes, think, and put information
Step 8: Know that it's OK if you don't get this the first time.
Return to your previous page by clicking your browser's "Back"
go to Next Page, or
go to the Site Index, or
Return to Ms. A's Class Home Page