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Web Searching, Sleuthing and Sifting

Web Searching, Sleuthing and Sifting 
Course Overview 

Course Title: Web Searching, Sleuthing and Sifting

Semester: Begins and ends at your own pace!

Duration: 6 weeks

Instructor: Angela Elkordy

Assistant Professor, Librarian & Coordinator of Electronic Resources, The Sage Colleges, Albany & Troy, NY

Email address: or

Course Description:

"Web Searching, Sleuthing and Sifting" is an introduction to web searching methods and techniques. Assuming no prior knowledge,  the course will explain ways to find what you are *actually* looking for, instead of a lot of other "interesting" links. The class includes an overview of the World Wide Web (web), some of the kinds of information for which you can actually search (such as graphics, audio clips, software and interactive tutorials), an overview of different types of searchable web resources (such as indexes, directories), how to use search engines effectively (such as Altavista, Hotbot, Excite) and an overview of multi-search engines (such as Metacrawler, Dogpile). 

Course Objectives:

To explore a variety of web tools and search techniques in order to find useful information in a variety of formats. In other words, Searching, in general, Sleuthing for specific information, and Sifting to separate the good and the awful. It is important to note that because of the wide range of web search tools and techniques, the focus of the class is broad-based, that is, this is *not* an advanced course, although we will be using some advanced techniques. 

Who should take this class?

The search techniques and resources demonstrated, discussed or recommended in this class will have a wide range of practical applications and are therefore suitable for anyone that has an interest in finding information on the web. Some of the searching techniques, such as Boolean and field searching, are not, conceptually, web specific and may be applied to other database environments. Neophyte and seasoned searchers alike have found these tutorials useful. 


Due to the format of the class, students will track their own progress. Homework will be assigned to demonstrate concepts and web tools. Students who may submit specific questions to the Instructor by email. 

Course Outline:

1. What's the Web and why can't I find what I want?

  • What is the World Wide Web?
  • Why can't I find what I want? (some of the reasons users might not be able to locate the information they need)

2. Where do I start? (Web Directories)

  • What is a Web Directory? How is this different from a Search Engine?
  • Discussion of types of web directories
  • Examples of web directories

2a. Evaluating what you find (Tips for Selecting Resources)

  • Why "evaluate?"
  • How do I know what to look for?
  • Tips on identifying good web sites.

3. What's next? (Web Indexes and Search Engines)

  • What is a search engine really and how does it work?
  • What's a 'bot?
  • What's are the most popular and useful search utilities?
  • Which is the best search engine?

4. Power Search Techniques (Boolean and Field Searching)

  • Boolean searching
  • Field searching
  • Using search templates
  • Refining search results

5. Locating Images: Photos, Pictures & Graphics

  • How can I find pictures or photographs on the web?
  • Using popular search engines to search for images
  • Using specialized utilities to find images

5a. Photos, Pictures & Graphics -- Quick Reference

  • Where to go to locate a variety of different kinds of images

6. Using Multi-threaded Search Engines (Searching several web indexes at once)

  • What is a multi-threaded or multi-search Engine?
  • When would I use one?
  • If meta-searchers are so great, querying my favorite search engines in parallel, then why wouldn't I always use one?
Last updated: February 24, 1999 
Copyright © 1998-99,  Angela Elkordy, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Electronic Resources, The Sage Colleges,