Searching Smarter, Not Harder A lesson on the benefits of using a database instead of one of the more common search engines Mrs. Vicki McCall 2009 So, you have to do a research paper… What Now?? Mrs. Killjoy, your 6th grade ELA teacher, has assigned you the job of finding out if caffeine is good or bad for you. • Find 5 articles to read on this subject. • What is your opinion about the matter? • Write a persuasive essay on your viewpoint, given the facts. • Cite information from at least 2 of your articles. Where should I search? Google It? • Millions of Search a Database? results…who’s got the • Limited results time? • Choose your own readability level words…What? Am I a • Lots of technical rocket scientist? • There’s always Wikipedia… butTeacher says “NO.” • Information is trustworthy • Hey! That’s more like it! Finding the Needle in the Haystack Make your plan. Work your plan. Remember The Big Model • Task: What needs to be found? • Info Seeking: What resources do I use? • Location & Access: Where??? • Use of Info: What info is useable when I find it? • Synthesis: What do I need to create? • Evaluation? How will I know if I did a good job? 1. Define your Task (Mrs. Killjoy sort of did this for you.) • Locate information about caffeine’s effects and make a decision if it is good or bad for you. 2. Info Seeking Strategies • Sirs Discoverer will let you find your info much faster due to searching by subject in this database instead of searching the whole web with keywords. • It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that you want to save some time for this, so why search the web?? 3. Location and Access ?? •SIRS Discoverer/WebFind contains thousands of carefully selected articles and websites with just what you need! SIRS Discoverer is the place to be!! Go the the DISCUS website. http://scdiscus.org/ Click on SIRS Discoverer! There are two ways to search: 1. Using keywords 2. Searching by Subject Index Basic KeywordSearch • Use a web to organize your thinking and to identify keywords (bolded) for your search. You will use these “main idea” words in the search for articles. What is it? What are its effects on teens? Body? Where is it found Caffeine Foods? Mind? Drinks? • Use your keywords in the basic search box. Remember to use the following ways to limit your results. Use Boolean Logic symbols (that’s Boolean, not baleen), use +, -, OR to find articles with or without certain words, such as caffeine + effects + teens Truncation (*) caffein* will pick up caffeine, caffeinated, caffeination, etc. Phrase searching (“ “) “caffeinated beverages” will make sure both words are together Natural Language – typing in a question, thought, etc., like “What is caffeine?” • Here’s what that looks like You will still have to sort through your results to find articles that you can use. Advanced Search • You can do all of the things mentioned above to limit your search in one step by clicking on the Advanced Search link at the top of the page and choosing from the choices for each field. A much easier way is to use the subject indexes SIRS provides. Click on the button for Health and Human Body. The second article listed is about caffeine, and it has descriptors listed at the bottom that will help you find more articles. Click on the descriptor, “caffeine.” Now, all your results are about “caffeine.” There are many other descriptors listed so that you can follow a link to any topic that relates to your search and your purpose. For example, you might click on “Physiological Effect.” Now, you can , •use the tabs across the top to pick journal articles, news articles, magazine articles, etc. • use the legend across the top to pick articles on your reading level •Click on the yellow apple to find related subjects if you need more info. Citing your Articles SIRS Discoverer provides a complete citation guide if you click on How To Cite at the bottom of the Home Page, or it can be found at the top of your results pages. You’ve finished the Location and Access (step 3) of the Big 6. Now it’s up to you to use the information effectively by reading, taking notes, and organizing what you learn (Step 4) so that you can write that persuasive essay (Step 5) that Mrs. Killjoy wants! Good luck with your research! Remember to… •follow the steps of the Big 6 Model. •use the SIRS Discoverer database to locate your articles instead of getting lost surfing the web! Works Cited DISCUS: Your Information Place. SC State Library, n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2009. <http://scdiscus.org/>. SIRS Discoverer on the Web. SIRS Publishing, n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2009. <http://discoverer.prod.sirs.com/ discoweb/disco/do/ frontpage>. Assessment • I would assess my students through observation and the use of a checklist of search skills as I assisted them with research in the library or computer lab for this research/writing project. • I would know that they met my objectives if they could successfully find relevant articles on their individual reading levels in the SIRS Discoverer database, and could effectively use and cite the articles for their writing project in their ELA class.