02 September 2009

Module 4 - Topic 1


** For this topic you will be following instructions to work through a demonstration. You will need to work in two screens. This screen will have the instructions and relevant information and the second screen is to do the search - you will have to toggle between the two. **

Google is constantly changing. The notes and exercises in this module were updated in June 2010. As far as we know it reflects the current state but let us know if you find differently (via the comments section).


There has been some new developments recently in many of Google's search engines. These developments include more options to refine a search and various ways of displaying the results.

First of all - Watch the Google Search Options video for an overview of these options.

  • Right click on Google (to open up a separate window)
  • Search for hemophilia

Note: left bar - options to refine your search

  • Click on the down arrow beside More
  • Click on Discussions - note the change in results list
  • Click on some of the other options, such as news books, to what happens to your results

Note: Videos through to Blogs are Google Specialist Search Engines - also shown at the top.

  • Click on Everything at the top of the options
  • Scroll down to have a look at the rest of the options
  • Go down to More Search Tools and expand the menu (click on the down arrow)
  • Click on some of options (except Wonder wheel and Timeline)
  • See how the list of results change
  • Look for the number of results

Note the following:

  • The range of options shown in the sidebar can change depending on the option you choose.
  • The time based options are the same as you would find in the Advanced search , except the date range option which is only available under Search options.
  • All of the options narrow/filter or manipulate the result list for the search query entered, except for the Wonder wheel and Timeline (to be discussed later).
  • Links to related searches are displayed at the bottom of the page.

Google Wonder wheel

  • Click on the Wonder wheel link in left side bar

The wheel spokes show links to related searches, or broader/narrower searches in different contexts.

  • Click on some of the spokes and see what sort of results you get

To get back to the original wheel you just need to click in the circle of the previous wheel.

?? Did you notice?

  • The results list on the right side changes as you click on each spoke
  • As you click on the spokes the search terms change in the search box (top and bottom)
  • The related search suggestions are not listed at the bottom of the page as with the basic search because they are represented in your wheel spokes.

  • Click on the link Standard view on the left above Wonder wheel

All the Google search operators (as specified in the Advanced search) could still be used, e.g. 'unemployment site:govt.nz'.

It is comparable to clustering techniques and there are other search engines which follow this technique, e.g. Clusty , Quintura (cloud tag display), Carrot2 , WebClust , iBoogie .

Some authors have suggested that the Wonder wheel can be used as a mind map. Though it may give some ideas for a mind map it cannot yet replace the human thought in organising information that goes with creating a mind map suited to a specific purpose.

Ways to use the Google Wonder wheel:

  • Look for related information - further search strategies, for questions like: Is there anything else I should look at for my topic?

  • Ideas for creating topics within a subject (similar to mind mapping). Students often have to formulate their own research questions on a given topic as part of their assignments.

  • Use it to explore a topic, especially helpful when patrons are not clear on exactly what they are looking for. Also useful when you want to have a quick look at related information on a topic new to you.

Google Timeline

  • Search for flu epidemic and Click on Timeline

Results are displayed under the timeline in chronological order. The dates are extracted from the web pages and the information related to the date are displayed in the 'snippet' with your search term highlighted.

  • Drill down further by clicking in the timeline sections or by clicking on the dates in the result list.

Note the following:

  • The dates mentioned are not always related to your search topic, but may be related to another event mentioned on the web page.
  • Sometimes the date may refer to the publication date of an article or blog post.
  • More results are found with a basic web search, however when selecting the timeline option the number of results are reduced.
  • You get different results when you select the timeline.
  • Default display is 10 items per page - though only the first page is displayed. When you choose more results per page the timeline is more detailed, and the resultant web pages displayed change.
  • The 'related searches' are not displayed on the timeline page.

The value of the timeline lies in the access you get to historical records and the overview it gives of the historical treatment of a topic. Trends will also show up - depending on your topic - or even how the use of a term has changed over time.

Though it is an interesting way of searching for information, you still have to sift through and evaluate the information and most probably build a timeline of an event/topic yourself.

As always, you have to structure your search query carefully with appropriate keywords and phrases to get good results.

  • Close your Google search window.


Though we mostly use Google because it is familiar and easy to use and usually gives good results for well structured search queries, there are other search engines which are worth using as well.


It’s the next popular search engine after Google.

  • Right click Yahoo (to get a separate window)
  • Search for tsunami
  • Have a good look at all the options offered.

?? Did you notice?

  • The suggestions under Also Try
  • When you click on the down arrow under the search box you get a list of related searches which you can scroll through via the up/down arrows.
  • On the left side bar you can choose to limit your search to a specific website, e.g. Twitter, Wikipedia, etc
  • There are also further 'related searches' listed in the left side bar.
  • The Options link next to the search button which takes you to the Advanced Search

The latest feature added to Yahoo search is the Search pad, a kind of note taking application where the sites you visited are listed and you can add your own notes, share the your notes and save it. You need to have a Yahoo account to use it.

  • Close your Yahoo search window.


Launched in June 2009, Bing is Microsoft's replacement for their previous Live Search engine.

  • Right Click Bing (to get a separate window)
  • Search for tsunami


  • Related searches are listed on the left side bar.
  • Preview of website on the right of a listed result (hold the mouse for a few seconds to give the preview time to load.)

  • Close your Bing search window.


A very easy to use search engine from Europe that has all the options on one page – even when you select the Advanced search option you still stay on the same page.

  • Right click Exalead (to get a separate window)
  • Search for tsunami


  • Thumbnails of websites are displayed to the left of the text result.
  • Related searches are listed under the search box
  • Related terms listed in the side bar. If you click on the related terms it will rerun your search with the related term/phrase added to the search query.
  • Breaking news listed at top]

  • Click on Advanced Search option

Notice how it opens up in the same screen - very convenient!

The Advanced search options include a Phonetic search option (e.g. soundslike:lite) and an Approximate spelling search option (spellslike:lite). (If you really misspell a word it will ask Did you mean … as Google does.)

  • Close Advanced Search screen
  • Click on Wikipedia link at top of page

Notice the interesting way of searching Wikipedia. The tag cloud on the right is colour coded searches for people , organisations, locations and categories related to the topic.

  • Close your Exalead search window.


Want to try several search engines but don’t have time to do each individually? Then meta-search engines are the answer. Meta-search engines return search results from several search engines for every query submitted. Here are a few familiar ones:

Open each one in a separate window (right click) and repeat some of the searches you did earlier to see how they work.

If the Comments section below is not open .... click on the link to find participants' comments which could be helpful for this topic.




1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information in this module topic. Its very useful.