This material has been developed to accompany "Searching and Researching on the Internet & the World Wide Web." ISBN 1-887902-26-0, and "The Information Specialist's Guide to Searching and Researching on the Internet & the World Wide Web." Ernest Ackermann & Karen Hartman. ISBN 1-887902-23-17, Published by Franklin, Beedle & Associates. ©1998

Activity  3: Search Strategies in MetaCrawler


In this activity, we'll look for information on the same topic in MetaCrawler. As stated before, MetaCrawler is a meta-search tool. Also known as parallel-search tools or unified search interfaces, meta-search tools don't create their own indexes. They merely provide a search interface so that you can use several search engines and directories at the same time with one search expression. Currently, MetaCrawler searches five different databases: AltaVista, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Mining Company, WebCrawler, and Yahoo! Meta-search tools can be very useful for single-word subjects but unreliable for multiterm, multifaceted searches, such as the one we have been using in this chapter. Let's see how MetaCrawler handles our topic. We will be following Steps 5 through 10 of the basic search strategy.



1. Select a search tool

Start with the home page for MetaCrawler.

2 Read the search instructions on the search engine's home page.

Look for sections entitled "Help," "Advanced Search," "Frequently Asked Questions," and so forth.

Click on Tolls & Tips.

Here you will notice that MetaCrawler uses implied Boolean operators (+ and -) and that phrase searching, using double quotation marks, is a supported feature.

3 Create a search expression using syntax that is appropriate for the search engine.

Type the following search expression in the search form: +"teenage girls" +"eating disorders" +"self-esteem" Click on all.

By using this search expression and choosing all, you are telling MetaCrawler to find all the Web pages in which each of these three phrases occur. The + in front of each phrase indicates that the phrase must appear somewhere in the Web pages.

Click on Search.

It will list on the screen the different search tools it has searched so far, along with the number of the results found in each one. You can't always rely on these results, however. If MetaCrawler says there are zero results in a certain database, this doesn't necessarily mean that there are zero results. Sometimes the search query in MetaCrawler doesn't coincide with the search features supported in the individual databases. When the results appear, they are listed by relevance and not by the search engine or directory in which they were found.

4 Evaluate the results.

After looking through the results, we decide to modify our search.

5 Modify your search if needed.

Go back and revise your query accordingly. Since MetaCrawler does not support nested Boolean searching, it may be unwise to add too many synonyms for the words we've already entered.

Let's modify our search by adding the extra keyword and changing the search options.

Place the cursor at the very beginning of the search query box and type +bulimia. Make sure there is a space between bulimia and +"teenage girls". Click next to any. Click on Search.

6 Try the same search in a different search engine.

If you like, you could try the same search in a different search engine on your own.

7 End the session.


End of Activity

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