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Search engines are programs that find documents based on specific keywords. Typically a search engine is capable of searching through millions of electronic documents on the Internet and retrieves results in relevancy ranked order.

Some of the most popular search engines
URLs
Google
Lycos
Yahoo!
Clusty
Ask.Com

When conducting a search using a search engine, you should use the search tips you learned in Lesson 1 for refining a search such as Boolean Operators (and, or and not), truncation and phrase searching.

Here is a brief comparison showing which of these refining techniques are supported by two of the most popular search engines.

 
Google
Yahoo!
Boolean Operators "AND" operator is automatically activated between each word entered (unless you put quotation marks around them), but "OR" operator can be inserted between search words. Not supported by this search engine.
Phrase searching Using quotation marks around search words to search for a specific phrase is supported Using quotation marks around search words to search for a specific phrase is supported
Truncation Not supported by this search engine. Not supported by this search engine.
Plus/Minus symbols To include a common word such as "the", "where", and "how" in the search, put a + sign in front it. Is supported by this search engine.

Since Google is one of the best search engines, it is important to point out some additional features:

  • Google Scholar is a new feature that searches through peer-reviewed, scholarly papers across many disciplines.
  • Google Book Search is a new feature that searches and makes available the full text of books. This project is just at its beginning stages.
  • A search in Google can be limited to specific URL extensions, such as ".gov" or ".edu" by using the Advanced Search option. This feature is also supported by Yahoo!


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