Comprehensive Web Search Strategy
Phase 1: Analyzing Your Search Topic
Open and print a copy of the "Analyzing Your Search Topic" template to create a preliminary list of keywords and phrases that will guide your online searching. As you begin searching, you may well discover new keywords, related phrases and related organizations. Add them to the list to build a more comprehensive list. You will be looking for:
Related authors and authorities
Outliers: (keywords and phrases that often appear but are not directly related to your search topic)
Spend some time refining your search topic before beginning your online searching. Follow the stages outlined below.
Phase 2: Parallel Search Engines
Begin your preliminary online searching using the parallel search engines. Enter keywords from your template into the search field. Be on the lookout for new keywords, related phrases, related organizations and outliers. Add them to the list you began on the research planning page. The purpose of this stage of the your research is primarily to expand and refine your initial list but if you find an appropriate webpage related to your topic be sure to bookmark it for future use.
Phase 3: Search Engines
In this phase you will search for specific phrases from your template. Place quotation marks around the phrase (s) to force most search engines to look for the exact phrase. Continue adding to your template and bookmarking appropriate webpages for future reference.
Phase 4: Web Indexes
Resist the urge to enter your keywords and phrases into the search field that appears on the web index for the time being and examine the broad categories offered by the web index. Select the ones that appear to be related to your topic and begin drilling down into the web index to see if you can find sub-categories related to your topic. Again, be on the lookout for new items to add to your list. If you find appropriate webpages, bookmark them for future use.
After you have exhausted this mode of exploration, try entering some of your keywords, phrases and organizations into the search fields and searching the web index. Pay close attention to the sub-categories as they will often suggest new keywords, related phrases and organizations. Follow promising links and bookmark appropriate webpages.
When you have exhausted all levels on one web index, move on to another one. The purpose of this phase of your research is to continue refining your keyword list and to continue building your bookmark file.
Phase 5: Web Directories and Webliographies
Evaluate your original list of keywords, related phrases and organizations, experts and outliers. Remove keywords and phrases that havent proven useful and highlight the ones that have.
Explore Web Directories and Webliographies. Some of the web directories have search capabilities which you can use but for the most part you will just need to begin with the most appropriate sub-category and drill down into the directories until you find what you are looking for. Continuing adding additional keywords, phrases, organizations, experts and outliers to your list and adding appropriate bookmarks.
Phase 6: Using Boolean Operators in Advanced Search Engines
Refine your list of keywords and phrases once more. Begin with the most promising keywords and phrases from your list. Use the refine features and the advanced Boolean operator search interface options of the search engines to refine your searching. The links returned in this phase of your web research are likely to be among the most relevant. Continue adding to your bookmarks.
Phase 7: Searching Beyond the Web
In this final phase of your web research, explore gophers, newsgroups, listserves and FAQ lists for additional information. Bookmark appropriate internet sites that you locate.
This concludes the Guided Web Searching activity. I trust that you have found the process to be helpful. It will be one to which you return again and again in the years ahead. You wont always need to go through all the phases of the process. Often a quick trip to a search engine or web index will locate what you need. But, in the event that you are having difficulty finding appropriate web resources or when you are overwhelmed by too many resources, the comprehensive web search process that you just used will be available.
developed by Bob Jost | firstname.lastname@example.org
last updated: April 25, 2002