Gathering Information Accessing Information from Electronic Sources Steps in Creating a Research Strategy 1. Identify your research topic and how much information you will need. 2. Discuss your topic with other students, teachers, and librarians to get ideas. 3. Write the topic as a question. 4. Create a list of key words and phrases to help you research. 5. Identify sources you will use to find information. 6. Begin your research. Searching on CD ROMs When you search CD ROM encyclopedias, you can find information by category, for example, “maps”, “images”, or “articles”, if you are not sure what you are looking for. Using categories will allow you to get a general idea of the topic and may give you some key words to help you in a search of the database. Use the find or search of a CD ROM – key a word or phrase for the CD ROM to look in its database of articles and multimedia files. Many new CD ROMs have links to online resources for updated information. Searching a Database List of articles that have been published in a magazine or journal. Periodical- index database helps you find the specific location of an article within a periodical – it ONLY contains magazine and journal articles Different databases exist for different subjects; popular databases include Academic Search Premier, EbscoHost, Business Source Premier, etc. Good for term paper, report, essay, etc. Choose your periodical-index database – select the right database for your topic Search for your articles – use keywords and dates; each database has different requirements for combining words so read instructions (some require and/ + between words). Choose your articles – your search will display a list of articles related to your topic (citation list). This will give you important information to find the articles (title of periodical, volume number, page numbers). Some databases give you direct access to the article via a link. You may have to read the annotation or summary of the articles to determine if it is appropriate/relevant to your topic. Find your article – you will find your article either in a library or online. Some databases will let you click directly on the hits and take you right to your article. Others will give you only the author, title, publication, date, and page number. WWW You have two basic options for finding information on the WWW Surf, clicking on hyperlinks until you happen onto a site that has something you need. Search using directories or indexes of organized information. You need an internet search engine to search for information. Search Engines A search engine (Altavista.ca, Canada.com, ca.yahoo.com, google.ca) is a computer program that electronically searched the World Wide Web looking for HTML documents – referred to as web crawlers, spiders, and indexing robots. They download and examine web pages and draw out information to assist in describing those pages. Single search engines Meta-search engine – takes your query and submits it to numerous search engines simultaneously (ex. Search.com, Dogpile, MetaCrawler) Directories and Indexes Directories allow you to key a subject heading to find the available resources (Yahoo, Google) Index is the database the search engine’s spider has compiled for users to examine. Limitations to Search Engines Too much irrelevant information Built-in bias Too much commercial information Not all search engines are created equally Search engines only recognize text The information is old Researching on the Internet and WWW Techniques to get the best results from a search query to reduce the number of irrelevant and inaccurate hits: Only search the part of the internet you need to search Check your spelling Always key the most important search term first Use singular words, not plural Key in lowercase, not CAPS Use nouns wherever possible Limit your search to three or four words at most If you want a particular phrase, put it in “quotation marks” Truncate your words, and follow with an * to get variations for the word Vary your spelling (some sites use American spelling) Use the Advanced search option of the search engine Use Boolean operators to indicate the relationship between your search terms and narrow down search results (AND, OR, NOT – capitalize) Activity: Use one of the search engines discussed to search for information on ergonomic keyboards. Use the search strategies listed in the chart below to refine your search. Record the number of hits for each search result Search String (keyed in the search box) Number of hits KEYBOARD Keyboard Keyboards Keyboard* Keyboard AND ergonomics Ergonomic keyboard “ergonomic keyboard” Natural Language Query Keying in search query in the form of a question – the search engine interprets the way we naturally ask a question (i.e. Ask Jeeves) Evaluating Electronic Sources Assess the information you read on the internet for accuracy and relevance – not all information will be valuable! Guidelines to Assess Information WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS? Web pages are divided into three main sections – header, body, footer – use this information to evaluate the page; without this information it is hard to determine the reliability of the information. WHO IS THE AUTHOR? The author should be qualified to write on the subject – name, qualifications, biography, expert, contact info, bias? WHO PUBLISHED THE ARTICLE? You should be able to determine who published the site – credible, hard-copy as well as electronic? Knowing you posted the information and where the information was obtained gives the reader the opportunity to verify the information posted WHO SPONSORED THE SITE? WHAT IS THE SITE’S PURPOSE? You can figure out a site’s origin by the domain name – commercial sites end in .com, educational sites in .edu, and government sites in .ca, or .gov Domain names that are commercial and try to sell you something are most likely not impartial or unbiased Domain name is not a guarantee of knowing who sponsored the site – anyone can register a domain name (cyber squatting) HOW IS THE ARTICLE WRITTEN? Are there spelling/grammar errors? Are there more graphics/audiovisual effects than meaningful content? How detailed is the content, info about topic, different points of view? Is there any research data? Links to other information? Has the author referenced other work? HOW UP TO DATE IS THE SITE? Footer should tell you date posted or last revised – for some topics, it is important to find the most up-to-date information Good Citations When you write a research report, you have to indicate where you got your information from. Acknowledging the source of your information is called a citation. Guides called style manuals show you how to source your information – common style manuals are MLA, APA, and Chicago. Print Sources All style guides for print sources require the following in the citation: The name of the author – last name first followed by a comma Full title of the work, followed by a comma Where (city/country) the information was published, followed by a colon Who the publisher is, followed by a comma The date the information was published Electronic Sources According to MLA – Modern Languages Association Style Manual Software Programs and CD ROMs Name of company that wrote software program or CD ROM. Name of software/CD ROM. City of Publication: Name of publisher, year of publication. Example: Rocking Software. Ultimate Force. Toronto: GT Interactive Software, 1995. Internet Web Site Author’s name (last name first). Document title. Date of internet publication. Date of access <URL>. Example: Business/Organization Ontario Ministry of Education Home Page. 29 Sept. 2010. Ministry of Education. 4 Apr. 2011 <http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/english>. Example: Newspaper article from electronic source Kaczmaryk, Christopher. “Dogs really are people’s best friends.” LP Newsnet. 5 May 2010. 1 Oct 2010. <http://lpnewsnet.com/search/daily/fastweb?getdoc+site+874+wAAA+%22a%7Edogs%7Efriend>.
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