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Web search skills

Finding research information on the web or 'on-line' is about having

  • the skills to undertake searches in the areas that are relevant for you and
  • the knowledge about what is out there in the form of:
    • Research organisations
    • Electronic libraries
    • Gateways
    • On-line courses
    • Software

The next four sections cover these topics from a research mindedness perspective.

An important point to note when you are accessing research documents on line is that they may be:

  • very big and take a long time to download, so try the summary documents first. Your computer may not ‘like’ some documents, especially if they have lots of images and graphs.
  • in ‘pdf’ format, which means you need to download an additional programme ‘Adobe Acrobat Reader’ onto your computer to be able to read them. This is safe, although some organisations place restrictions on downloading software, so you may need to check with your system administrator if it doesn’t work. You can print pdf files and read them on screen but you cannot cut and paste extracts from them. This protects authors from misuse of their work and their copyright.
  • in formats such as Excel if they are tables of numerical data, and again you will need to have the relevant software on your machine to read them.

Exclamation markAnd, of course, always make sure your computer is protected in case any documents contain viruses, or have them attached to files! Anti-virus software needs updating regularly as new viruses are being created and distributed all the time.

Internet social worker

If you are new to using the web then it is recommended that you try an on-line course called Internet social worker as a helpful introduction to getting to grips with the subject. This covers basic tools of :

  • searching
  • browsing
  • gateways
  • using search engines
  • web directories
  • hints and tips.

It takes about an hour to use and also includes quizzes, useful links, and a glossary. Even if you have some experience of using the web it may help to improve your internet skills.

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