Become a Sophisticated Searcher

By Judith Maginnis Kuster

Every three years since 2002, this column has focused on special search features, including ways to use the most popular search engine -- Google (www.google.com) -- more effectively. Much of the information in these articles is still relevant and worth reviewing.

In "Uncovering Google Goodies" The ASHA Leader, March 19, 2002, (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster4/part40.html) I highlighted several important Google features, including the huge archive of Usenet Newsgroups dating back to 1981 (http://groups.google.com), the specialized searching for professional treasures by using a +pdf or +ppt after a keyword, and a mega catalog which morphed first to "froogle" and now to "product search" (www.google.com/prdhp?hl=en&tab=wf).

Three years later, "Have You Googled Lately?", (The ASHA Leader, November 29, 2005 (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster4/part67.html) featured Google News (http://news.google.com), Google Print (http://print.google.com), Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/), Google Maps (http://maps.google.com), the important "cache" feature, limiting a search by domains, the translation feature (www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en) and image (http://image.google.com) and video (http://video.google.com) search.

A current search of Google video quickly uncovers many gems, including:

Google continues to expand service in amazing ways.

Sear ch Strategies

Features of a search engine are important, but so are search strategies. A significant part of effective searching is understanding Boolean search strategies.

Another way to search for varying spellings and synonyms is to use the "tilde" (~) before the search term. For example, ASHA ~conference will uncover sites with the terms ASHA conference, but also will find ASHA convention. Adding a * in a search will produce additional references when searching, for example, an author's name. Check Nan Bernstein Ratner by entering "Nan Ratner" (975 hits) vs. "Nan * Ratner" (which will automatically enter either B. or Bernstein and produces 80,500 hits).

Finally, use several keywords to make your search as specific as possible. Be sure to use quotation marks for names or phrases. For example:


Judith Kuster is a professor in the Department of Speech, Hearing, and Rehabilitation Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at judith.kuster@mnsu.edu. All of Kuster's Internet columns are available in HTML format with active links (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster4/leader.html), although URLs change and there is no guarantee that links from previous articles are still functional.

Kuster, JM, Become a Sophisticated Searcher, ASHA Leader, July 15, 2008, p. 44-45.