Google Hacks III
Google: Advanced Mode
Anyone who has sat in on any bibliographic session with Susan Sganga or has overheard Richard Pipes counseling a student on the best way to use NC-LIVE has heard something like this “Advanced Mode is better and easier to use.” It’s true too: the so-called advanced modes in the various NC-LIVE databases allow users to zoom right to what they need; provided they know a little bit about how the data is structured. For instance, if you want critical essays about C. S. Lewis, it makes sense to treat Lewis as a subject or descriptor, not just a keyword.
The open secret is that Google also has an advanced mode; it’s even a hyperlink on its homepage. Because web pages generally don’t have the same level of descriptive detail (called metadata) as one would find in a commercial database and because Google’s relevance ranking works so well, the advanced search is not often used for searches. However, casual searching may not be enough when one is truly doing research on the web. At that point, Advanced Mode can be very useful.
You can get to the Advance Search either from the link on the Google home-page or from the following address: http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en. The top half (shaded in blue) should look familiar to those who read Part II of Google Tips. The four fields simply illustrate the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT, phrase searching. Besides these, you also have the option of limiting results to certain languages and dates. English is the dominate language on the web, but is not universal. One the other hand, you may want to search critical works on or by Derrida in French rather than translation. File format is interesting because Google indexes all sorts of material on the web, not just web pages. Besides, HTML and ASP pages, Google indexes (among other things) Microsoft Word (doc) documents and Power Point presentations (ppt). You can also limit your search by domain. For instance, if you wanted to exclude commercial sites, try selecting “don’t” from the drop-down menu and entering “com” for the domain. Conversely, you can select for certain domains. Remember, domains are not limited to “com,” “edu,” “org,” “gov,” and “mil.” Countries have their own domains. For instance, if you wanted a Czech view of Vaclav Havel, you could enter “cz” into the domain field. Google is also very flexible about what it means by a domain. A domain can also be a particular site, such as “wingate.edu.” For instance, if you wanted to find something on the Wright Brothers in the Library of Congress, you enter the domain for the Library of Congress “loc.gov.” The benefit here is that searching Google is often easier than search the site in question. For a list of country domains, check out http://www.checkdomain.com/list.html. Finally, just as commercial databases have searchable fields such as title, author, and subject, web pages have elements that afford a certain amount of indexing (though not much), this is what “Occurrences” is all about. If you are finding too many pages, you might try limiting yourself to titles. You can also do searches that are much like one would find Social Science Citation Index by searching for the links (which are much like citations) within a page. Of course, one is limited by the Advanced Mode form itself. For those who want to make their searches as precise as is possible on the web (and to get a taste of what librarians did all the time on BRS and Dialog), check in next time for Expert Mode.