Information Competence
CSUS

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Introduction

Overview of Databases

Overview of the Web

Search Strategies

Evaluating Results

Capturing Information

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Interpreting Web search engine results

Because each Web search engine varies in terms of displaying results, it is difficult to provide general guidance on evaluating and interpreting those results. However, look to see if the following information is available.
  • domain - most search engines provide the URL of the retrieved sites. Check the domain of the URL to determine whether the Web page is hosted on an educational site (.edu), a government site (.gov), an association/organization (.org) or a commercial site (.com)
  • ranking - some search engines rank results by various criteria such as relevance, comparing the information in the site against the information in the search query.
  • date - the results from search engines provide a date which may be useful for evaluating the currency of a Web site. Be aware that the date could refer to when the page was created, mounted, or updated.
  • annotation - most search engines provide "annotations" with search results. These "annotations", usually the first one or two sentences from the Web page, may provide you with information about the content of the site.

Here is a sample Web search result which illustrates the kinds of information described above:

annotation btn_openpage_white.gif (88 bytes)Hong Kong Tourist Association
ONLINE SEARCH You can use this form to search the pages of Hong Kong Tourist Association World Wide Web site. This facility requires a forms-capable browser. Enter the word or words you want to search for. Separate multiple words with spaces. Case..
99%
ranking
1998/04/08
date
http://www.hkta.org/search.html
domain

Once you have linked to a retrieved site, check to see if any information is provided about the producer/creator of the Web page. Often this information is available through a link to "about this page," "about us," "about this site," or a link to the site's home page. Some examples follow:

about.jpg (5429 bytes)

about2.jpg (3579 bytes)

home.jpg (1157 bytes)

swlhome.gif (1881 bytes)

title_bar_home.JPG (1729 bytes)

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