Intelligent Web Searching
About this workbook 2
Searching Google more effectively 3
Searching for academic information 5
2a. Searching with Google Scholar 5
2b. Searching with Subject Gateways 6
Extra exercises: 7
Literature searching with Web 2.0 tools 7
3a Blogs 8
Managing your online references 9
Further help 10
Appendix – Evaluating websites checklist 11
If you require this information in an alternative format (i.e. large print, braille or audio
cassette), please contact any library enquiry desk or telephone (0113) 343 5663 and
staff will make the necessary arrangements.
Page 2 of 12
Skills@Library teaching materials:
Intelligent Web Searching
This workbook contains a number of tasks and activities which will complement the information given in the
demonstration part of the workshop. By the end of this workbook, you will be able to:
Perform a search of the web using advanced search techniques
Search Google Scholar and subject gateways to find good quality web resources
Manage the information you find
About this workbook
Things that you need to type are displayed in Courier New bold font
Instructions assume that you are using the Internet Explorer browser (the ISS supported web browser), but you
can use any web browser
Page 3 of 12
1. Searching Google more effectively
Search engines such as Google are often useful if you need to find introductory level information on a topic.
Using Google Advanced Search will help you to refine your searches and retrieve more relevant results.
In the next exercise we’re going to look at how you could search Google for information about the EU’s policy on
climate change, and then on a topic of your choice.
Exercise 1: Using Google Advanced Search
1. Go to the Google homepage http://www.google.co.uk
2. Type climate change into the search box and click Search
How many results did you get? (displayed below the search box) ______________________
You can make your searches much more relevant and focused by using Google’s Advanced Search options:
3. Now click on Advanced Search below the search box. You will see the following screen:
Results will contain all Results will contain
the words you type here the exact phrase
you type here
contain at least
one of the words
you type here You can enter
words here that
you want to
exclude from your
You can add search
limits such as
Language to Clicking on the +
your search by symbol will expand
using these your search options
drop-down further, including
menus choosing websites
created since a certain
5. Enter “climate change” into the box which says this exact wording or phrase; this will act in the same way as
putting quotation marks around it.
6. Type the word policy into the first box after one or more of these words and the word strategy in the second
7. Limit your results to those which are in English, by choosing English from the Language drop-down menu
8. Type europa.eu into the box next to Search within a site or domain* (see explanation of this after the exercise
on page 4).
9. Click on the Advanced Search button to apply these limits
How many results did you find this time? _____________________
Page 4 of 12
10. Now try a search with a topic of your choice.
What keywords or phrases are you going to search with? Write them below e.g. European Union, policy, strategy.
Can you identify any phrases? Write them below e.g. “climate change”.
What type of websites are you going to search? See below for examples e.g. European institutions europa.eu
11. Use Google advanced search to find relevant results on your topic
*Domain You can limit your results to those from a specific server or website. Some common domain
tags (preceded by a dot) are:
.uk/.de/.fr country codes (for non-US countries)
.edu US educational
.ac.uk UK higher education
.gov UK government (e.g. www.wales.gov.uk)
.com or .co company (e.g. www.bbc.co.uk)
.org non-profit organisation (e.g. www.alzheimers.org.uk)
europa.eu EU institutions
Page 5 of 12
2. Searching for academic information
Google Scholar differs from the traditional Google search engine as it searches for scholarly literature rather than, for
example, someone’s personal website. It will find references to books, preprints, abstracts and journal articles from a
wide range of subjects, though Google Scholar is currently stronger in the sciences/biomedical sciences than in
humanities or social sciences.
Exercise 2a: Searching Google Scholar
1. Type http://scholar.google.com/ into the Address bar
2. Try a search for the exact phrase “climate change” using quotation marks
3. How many results did you get? _____ Look through the first few results. They should now only contain references to
books, journal articles and other scholarly material.
3. Now select the Advanced Scholar search options to further refine your results.
4. Type climate change into the box next to with the exact phrase
5. Limit your search to only find results published between 2005-2010 by using the Return articles published
6. Select to search within the subject area Biology, Life Sciences, and Environmental Science
7. Select Search Scholar
If you find a useful article, you can click ‘cited by…’ to see other articles have cited that one
8. Now try out your own search; remember to think about the keywords you are going to search with, do you only want
material published in certain years or from particular journals?
Important note: When running a Google Scholar search you can now see which papers the University of Leeds
Library subscribes to and go directly to the whole article. To set this service up, go to http://scholar.google.co.uk/ and
click on the cog icon to the top right of the screen , then select Scholar Preferences. In the Library links box, type in
Leeds, then choose “University of Leeds – Full text at the University of Leeds”, and then save preferences. When you
now do a search, a link “Full text at Leeds Uni” will appear at the right of each search result where Leeds has a
subscription to that material.
REMEMBER: Searching Google Scholar is not a comprehensive literature search. Your Library subject support page
offers advice and guidance on searching for academic information in other resources such as journal databases. You
can find your subject page from the list here: http://library.leeds.ac.uk/subjects
Page 6 of 12
Subject gateways contain web resources that have been evaluated and quality checked by subject experts
Exercise 2b: Searching subject gateways
1. Go to the Library homepage http://library.leeds.ac.uk
2. From the left hand blue menu, click on the tab that says Site index. Type the word websites into the search box
and click on the link to websites.
3. On the websites page, click on the link to subject gateways. Have a look at the list of subject gateways and try
searching a gateway which you think might be useful for your subject area.
4. If you’re not sure which one is suitable, try a multidisciplinary gateway such as Infomine http://infomine.ucr.edu/
Your subject pages may also provide tutorials and advice on how to search the web for subject specific information.
You can find your subject page from this list http://library.leeds.ac.uk/subjects. From your subject page, under the Find
Information box, select the link to websites.
Page 7 of 12
Literature searching with Web 2.0 tools
Web 2.0 is a term that describes web applications and websites that facilitate interactivity. It is sometimes called the
‘social web’. Some examples include Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger.
Pros and cons of Web 2.0 tools for finding academic information:
Information updated regularly so you can Anyone can put information on the web, they do
get the latest news and discussions on a not have to be an expert
Organisations such as Universities and It is hard to locate the academic information from
government departments are using Web the information aimed at a general audience
2.0 tools to communicate to the public
Web 2.0 tools are constantly being It’s hard to keep up with all the new information
developed and updated being published online
You can get information unavailable Information can disappear or move on the
anywhere else e.g. personal experiences internet
accounted in a blog
Generally it is not advised that you reference Web 2.0 tools in academic work. However, they can lead you to
academic sources of information, latest research or new ways of thinking about something!
A blog is a type of website which is usually written by an individual, it is regularly updated and entries are usually
displayed in reverse-chronological order. There are a huge number of useful academic blogs out there that can prove
good sources for information and updates on current issues. Academic blogs are often used to report the latest
research in an area or provide links to the latest articles, reports or other information. You can also subscribe to an
RSS feed on many blogs to ensure you hear about the most recent updates as soon as they are published.
One good example is Futurity http://www.futurity.org/ which presents research news from the top Universities in the
US, Canada and the UK including the University of Leeds.
Exercise 3a: Searching for blogs on your topic or research area
1. Go to Google Blog Search.
2. Type your search into the search box e.g. climate change
3. You can use the Advanced Search options to refine your searches
4 On the results page, when there are entire blogs that seem to be a good match for your query, these will appear in a
short list just above the main search results. The rest of the results may be to just individual posts within a wider blog.
If you find a useful blog you may want to set up an RSS feed to keep up-to-date with new posts.
Information on setting up RRS feeds can be found on our Learning in a Digital Age topic page under Managing your
Page 8 of 12
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up
to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets" (Wikipedia 2011). Many high profile individuals such as Barack
Obama, organisations such as NHS choices and institutions such as the University of Leeds regularly tweet. Twitter
can be a valuable source of current information which may be helpful for your academic work.
Exercise 3a: Searching Twitter- Is your topic being talked about on Twitter?
1. Go to Twitter http://twitter.com/. You don’t have to register to search Twitter but to get the most out of it is advisable
to register an account
2. If you are not registered you can enter a search from the home page e.g. #climate change (tweets are often tagged
with hash tags so adding a # before your search terms will find tweets tagged with this hash tag) or climate change
(search for tweets with these keywords)
3. Or if you are registered type your search into the search pane
4. You will then see a page of results:
A list of tweets will appear in
chronological order (most
recent first). Many will link to
further information that you
may find useful
People who are closely linked
with your subject will appear on
the right. They might be
individuals, charities, government
departments etc. You may
choose to follow them to keep up-
to-date with their tweets,.
Page 9 of 12
Important note: While you may find some useful links on Twitter as well as interesting people to follow always make
sure you EVALUATE any information. Anyone can tweet; they may not be an expert in the subject they are tweeting
about. Also be careful not to get overwhelmed with information as millions of new tweets appear every day!
4. Managing your online information
Bookmarking websites or adding them to your favourites list is a way of saving interesting websites for future use.
Social bookmarking works in a similar way but the collected sites are shared and can be viewed by anybody on a
public site. You can also access your saved websites from any computer.
One of the most popular social bookmarking sites is delicious. To set up an account:
1. Go to http://delicious.com/ and click where it says Join.
2. Fill in the short registration form and you’re ready to start saving websites!
3. Once you’ve logged on, you can start saving websites by clicking on Save link
4. Type the URL of the website into the box provided, and then click Save You will then be asked to fill in some extra
details that will help you manage your websites more effectively:
You can add the link to a stack
you have created. A stack is a
collection of links built around a
common theme. To get started,
visit the stack tab on your profile
page and click “create stack.”
Choose at least three links, add Add tags (keywords)
descriptions, pick the best that describe the
images, choose the layout, and website. Use spaces
shuffle the order of links. When to separate tags
you’re all set, click publish to
share your Delicious stack.
You could add notes
here such as the
date you found the
website or a
description of the
5. Then click save.
Page 10 of 12
There are also a number of social bookmarking sites that have been designed for academic papers. You may want to
For further help on searching the web, using Web 2.0 tools, setting up RSS feeds and managing your online
information please go to the Skills@Library Learning in a Digital Age topic page
Page 11 of 12
Appendix –Evaluating websites checklist
This checklist covers the main criteria that can help you determine whether or not you feel confident to use a website
as part of your studies. Authority – Accuracy – Objectivity – Currency – Coverage
Note down which website you are evaluating, including its URL (web address):
See whether you can you find the following evidence on the website
KEY Yes = Unsure = No=
Can you tell who the author is?
Can you find contact details for the author?
Can you tell if the author is appropriately qualified to provide the information?
Is there any information about sponsorship of the website?
Is the information reliable?
Are facts appropriately referenced?
Is the information on the website being checked by anyone?
Does the information given on the website match facts you already have or
other reading you have done?
What is the purpose of the website? (to inform/sell/persuade)
Who is the target audience?
Can you detect any bias?
Is there any advertising/marketing on the page?
Can you tell when the information was created or last updated? (Does it matter
in this case?)
Does it look like it is being maintained?
Do the links work?
Page 12 of 12
Is the information comprehensive?
Is it at the right level academically?
Is it intended to be an overview or more in-depth/detailed?
Is it just a page of links to other sources?
Does it give information not available elsewhere/that you haven’t seen before?
What’s your judgement? Taking your evaluation into consideration, would you feel confident using this
website as part of or in support of your research? Why/why not?