Section 5 – Using the Web

Section 5 – Using the Web

World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (www) is one part of the Internet, a world-wide computer network. The World Wide Web and the Internet are not the same thing.

The Internet is a global network, connecting many smaller individual networks such as our network here at Global University.

The Internet is also a set of “protocols” that allow you to communicate with people, move files between computers, and find and share information. The protocols you are likely to use are:

            e-mail:  for communicating with people across the Internet

               http:  (hypertext transfer protocol) for making Web pages accessible

            telnet:   for logging into other computers such as databases and host computers

                 ftp:  (file transfer protocol) for transforming files from one computer to another across the Internet

Groups on the Web

The Web is made up of information published by many different groups and organizations.

The information you find on the Web is as varied as the people who put it there. Groups that publish information on the Web include:

  • Libraries.  A library spends a lot of money on quality sources—journals, indexes, and electronic books—that it makes available on the Web.
  • Universities.  Many universities offer online classes as well as provide space for faculty and students to produce Web pages. Information you need to register for classes can be found on the Web.
  • Government Agencies.  In order to make information widely available, federal, state and local governments publish many documents on the Web. 
  • Organizations.  Organizations publish information about their purposes on the Web. For example, the American Lung Association educates people about the dangers of smoking on its Web page.
  • Companies.  Many companies publish financial documents and press releases on their sites. They use the Web as a major marketing tool.
  • Individuals.  With a computer and a phone connection, anyone, anywhere in the world, can publish on the Web.

URLs

Every Web page has its own address called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). Much like the address on an envelope with a name, street address, city, state, and zip code, each part of the URL provides information about the Web page. Here is a sample URL and descriptions of its components:

            http://www.globaluniversity.edu/about/about.html

http – type of internet connection, hypertext transfer protocol

www – the host computer/server name

globaluniversity – second level domain name

edu – top level domain name

about – directory name

about – page name

html – type of file, hypertext mark-up language

Domain Names

The domain name tells you the type of organization sponsoring a page. It is most often a three-letter code that is part of the URL and is preceded by a “dot.”  Here are the most common top level domains:

.edu     educational institution

            Even though a page comes from an educational institution, it does not mean the institution endorses the views published by students or faculty members.

.com    commercial entity

            Companies advertise, sell products, and publish annual reports and other company information on the Web. Many online newspapers or journals also have .com names.

.gov     government agency

            Federal and state government agencies use the Web to publish legislation, census information, weather data, tax forms and many other documents.

.org     non-profit organization

            Non-profit organizations use the Web to promote their causes. These pages are good sources to use when comparing       different sides of an issue.

.biz      business

            This top level domain name was created to relieve some of the demand for .com domain names.

.net      network providers

            Initially intended to be used only for network providers, there are no restrictions on who can register a .net  domain name. It is often treated as a second .com domain.

.uk       country code (United Kingdom)

            Two letter domains established for countries or territories

There is also a .mil for U.S. military. In addition, more top level domain names were added in 2001 such as .name for use by individuals, and .pro restricted to professionals and professional entities.

To Use or Not to Use?

My professor says I can’t use the Web sources for my paper.

Ask your professor to clarify this, because there are basically ‘two Webs.’ There is the public Web that search engines find, and there’s the “invisible Web”—Web sources the library buys that only the Global University community can use.

An article you find using an online article index such as Academic Search Elite also exists in a journal in print. It’s just delivered via the Web by the library in order to facilitate research.

Go with the strengths of the public Web.

  • to obtain information on colleges, museums, non-profit organizations, or companies
  • for very current information such as news, sports scores, weather, stock quotes
  • to research a well-known event or individual
  • to use online job postings, shopping, auctions, or travel services
  • for opinions on a topic

Stop and think!  There are better places to look than the public Web.

  • to find articles in scholarly journals
  • to find articles published in popular magazines
  • to search databases that index articles in many academic disciplines
  • to find books on your topic
  • to locate the full text of articles or books that are copyrighted

Locate It on the Web

There are several ways to find what you need on the Web.

            1.  Use a known Web address. 

  • To search by a known URL, type it in the search box of your Internet browser* and press Enter. Be sure to check for typos!

            2.  Use a subject directory (such as Yahoo!) to browse a selection of Web sites.

  • Editors with knowledge in certain subject areas choose appropriate Web sites for that topic.

            3.  Use a search engine (such as Google) to search its database of Web pages.

Subject Directories: Commercial

Yahoo is an example of a commercial subject directory. Subject directories are collections of Web sites that people have selected and organized. 

They have arranged selected Web sites into subject categories and sub-categories. Sometimes links are annotated so you’ll know before clicking on it what a site contains. 

Many commercial subject directories, such as Yahoo, also have a search engine function. 

The quality of Web sites in a subject directory is usually good.

Other commercial subject directories:  Google Directory, Looksmart.com, About.com

Subject Directories: Library

Many university libraries review, collect, and organize material into subject guides so it may be more easily found and used for research. The material selected for inclusion has been reviewed by qualified librarians and/or faculty and is usually annotated. 

Other excellent library subject directories:

  • Infomine – University of California, Riverside  (infomine.ucr.edu)
  • AcademicInfo.net
  • Librarians’ Index to the Internet (lii.org)
  • Intute (intute.ac.uk)

About Search Engines

Search engines are handy tools that help you find what you want on the Web. 

Each search engine uses software (called spiders or robots) to compile a database of pages found on the publicly accessible Web. When you enter a search, the search engine scans it own database to match your terms against terms in the pages of its database. 

So, each search engine searches the part of the Web it has collected—not the whole Web—and each search engine has a somewhat different database.

Google is an example of a search engine. 

When you enter your search in a search engine, it searches within its own database of Web pages for keywords you enter, wherever they appear on a Web page.

Note that Google automatically inserts the connector AND between terms.

Use search engines:

  • to find specific terms or phrases
  • to find well-known entities, such as IBM or government agencies
  • to find news, travel and shopping services

Other search engines include:  AlltheWeb, AltaVista, Ask.com, Bing, Yahoo

Metasearch Engines

Ixquick.com is an example of a metasearch engine. Metasearch engines search the databases of several search engines at a time (e.g., HotBot, Excite, and Yahoo). Most eliminate duplicate listings. Usually, you have little control over search options.

Best for an overview of your topic on the Web, seeing which search engines will produce the best results, and for simple searches.

Downside, they aren’t thorough. Most metasearch engines omit Google, which is a highly-rated search engine.

Other metasearch engines: Dogpile, MetaFind, MetaCrawler, Search.com

Tips for Better Search Results

1.  Be specific

  • Use nouns and unique words
  • Put most important words first
  • Use multiple terms when possible

            Example:  If you were interested in “bias in newspapers” you could search for:

                             newspapers bias slant censorship journalism

2.  Use quotes around phrases

  • so the search engine will search for the words as a phrase not as separate words

            Example:  To look for a term, rather than search the individual words in a term, use
                             quotes around it: “world health organization”

3.  Use a plus sign +

  • in front of a word or phrase to require its search

            Example:  A word or a phrase preceded by a + must be present in all pages returned
                             +”absentee voting”   +”assisted suicide”

4.  Use a minus sign –

  • in front of a word to exclude its search

            Example:  In you wanted pages on fusion but not cold fusion you can prevent “cold”
                             from being searched:  -cold fusion

5.  Use lower case letters

  • to find words that are either lower and upper case

            Example:  japanese internment “world war ii”

6.  Use parentheses

  • around terms that are alike.
  • Enter connectors in capital letters

            Example:  (adolescents OR teenagers) television AND children

Shortcuts

Browser Find Function

  • Pull down the Find function in the Edit menu on your browser. 
  • Use the Find function to quickly find a word or phrase within a Web page.

Browser Go Function

  • Pull down Go in the View menu on your browser when you have looked through several Web pages to quickly return to a page. It’s faster than using the browser Back button.

Results: More Reliable Sites

  • Use words like “policy” or “research” in your search to find sites that are more reliable.

Position Papers

  • Use words like “controversy,” “debate,” or “issue” to find sites that cover both sides of an issue.

Advanced Features of Search Engines

  • Some search engines offer advanced features such as phrase searching, limiting, and Boolean searching in pull-down boxes.

Judging What You Find

Because there is no review process or regulation for the public Web, you will need to judge for yourself the quality of the material you find.

Keep in mind these questions:

Accuracy: Does the information presented seem accurate?  Are the facts verifiable?

Authority: Who is the author? What expertise does he or she have on this topic? Who sponsors the site? Check the domain name to see if it is a university, business, organization, or an individual.

Objectivity: What is the stated purpose of the site? Check the “About…” link if there is one. What position or opinion is presented and does it seem biased? What kind of sites does this one link to?

Currency: On what date was the page created?  Do you need more current information?  Do links on the site still connect to   their destination?

Use: Would you quote information from this site in a college research paper?    

Way to go! You should now be able to:

  • understand the organization of the Internet
  • identify the major types of Web sites
  • use search engines and metasearch engines to search the Web
  • interpret and evaluate Web search engine results

Before continuing on to section 6, take the self-test.

Self-Test

1.  You want to find material about the pros and cons of gun control.   Using a search engine, which of these search strategies would be the most effective? (Choose two.)

            A.  Enter a search with quotes around "gun control".

            B.  Enter the search gun control.

            C.  Use additional words like against and for in your search.

            D.  Use additional words like controversy, debate, or issue in your search.

2.  The Global University Library provides subject guides on the Web.

            A.  True

            B.  False

3.  Which of these protocols is included as a function of the Internet? (Choose all that apply.)

            A.  E-mail

            B.  ftp

            C.  http

            D.  Telnet

4.  Sites in a subject directory differ from those found by a search engine because they are chosen by people, rather than software. (Choose one.)

            A.  True

            B.  False

5.  Which is the best tool for finding current job listings in Malaysia? (Choose one.)

            A.  Library catalog

            B.  Article index

            C.  Web

            D.  Encyclopedia

6.  Which of the following is a good use of the Web? (Choose one.)

            A.  To find articles in scholarly journals

            B.  To obtain information about other colleges         

            C.  To search databases that index articles in many academic disciplines

            D.  To find books on your topic

7.  All search engines return the same results. (Choose one.)

            A.  True

            B.  False

8.  Who publishes information on the Web? (Choose all that apply.)

            A.  Students

            B.  Faculty

            C.  People in foreign countries

            D.  Libraries

            E.  Government agencies

            F.  Universities

            G.  Companies

            H.  Non-profit organizations

9.  You don't need to check information from the Web because the Internet has everything. (Choose one.)

            A.  True

            B.  False

 

Answer key:

            1.  A and D are correct. Remember that quotes around a term ensure that it will be searched as a phrase, not as separate words. Nouns like controversy, debate, or issue will help you find material covering two sides of an issue.

            2.  True. The Global University Library provides Course Research Guides that have categorized many types of resources for your research. The Course Research Guides are found on the Library website.

            3.  The Internet includes all four of these functions. These protocols allow you to  communicate with other (e-mail), move files (ftp), access Web pages (http), as well as log into other computers (Telnet).

            4.  True.  Sites in a subject directory are selected by people who try to choose the best sites for a subject category. Search engine results are a match between your terms and the terms found in Web pages of the search engine's database, a database created using software called spiders or robots.

            5.  C.  Timeliness is one of the strengths of the Web. Yahoo, for example, has a current careers and job listing feature. It also has local Yahoos! for cities and foreign countries.

            6.  The correct answer is B. Many colleges and universities use Web pages to provide information about their institutions.

            7.  False.  Each search engine uses software to compile its own database of pages found on the Web, and has its own formula or algorithm for selection. So each search engine will offer different results.

            8.  All are correct.  All sorts of people publish on the Web.

            9.  False.  You do need to verify information that you’ve found on the Web. Anyone can publish on the Web and nobody checks Web pages for accuracy.

  FINDING ARTICLES                                                                                                                                                                      CITING SOURCES