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Essay on Internet Search

Posted by admin as Example papers

Example Essay on Internet Search

The craft of Internet search requires training, comprehensive usage of the different tools and critical evaluation of the results. It is a skill to be learned, which is as straightforward as it is critical for efficient and productive research. This paper illustrates some fundamental differences between two types of online research tools, namely search engines and databases.

Although it also features tools for narrower search (such as scholarly works and news), Google is primarily a general (and the most popular) search engine, which returns results to keywords based on an array of criteria, which relate for the most part to the target pages’ properties. The ‘pool’ from which Google pulls the results is extremely wide and runs and gamut of publically available web pages. Databases such as EBSCO Academic Search Premier, on the other hand, use narrower and distinct sources, most notably data obtained from publishers of academic literature (i.e. journals and working papers) and/or highly focused news providers. The sources vary among databases (on bases such as each database’s academic focus, subscriptions, etc.), whereas the targets will usually be based on keywords, abstract text and descriptive data rather than on the properties of the pages.

The extent to which one tools or another facilitate efficient search largely depends on one’s specific needs. A search on ‘privacy and security on the Internet’ on Google, for example, yields an assortment of web pages, which range from policy papers and business projects to ‘how-to’ manuals, all of which with varying degree of accuracy, style, relevance and recency.

EBSCO’s results are much more coherent, but nevertheless narrowed down to academic papers and information from top-notch (albeit restrained) magazines. It should be noted, however, that the neatly ordered results (which appear in descending order according to recency, but can be organized in various ways) do not necessary indicate how recent are the data being used to draw the conclusions. This is because the academic papers available on EBSCO tend to be based on past data, which go through long period of processing, writing and evaluation before being published online and/or on print. Finally, EBSCO’s results differ from those of other databases, as it does not cover all academic sources.

Based on the strengths and weaknesses of both search tools, it can be argued that search engines and academic databases are not mutually exclusive for purpose of comprehensive Internet search. Google is indeed rather inaccurate (especially in terms of content relevance and the credibility of results) and may require more time and effort to separate the wheat from the (abundant) chaff. However, search engines may be useful during the early stages of Internet search, as they provide reasonable overview, related concepts, etc. Nevertheless, in most cases databases can and should be the primary means of search, as they are much more convenient to work with, help to ignore irrelevant results and usually offer much more reliable sources. Vigilant search that combines both tools (as well as tools such as Google Scholar and specific databases such as Pubmed) is assumed to yield the best results, given proper familiarity with the tools and critical reading skills.

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