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BARE BONES LESSON 9: Field Searching
 
 


"Half the world's population has never made a phone call."
             --Communications Representative, 1995


WHAT IS FIELD SEARCHING?

Electronic records, like print records, are organized into separate fields. A typical web page is composed of the following major fields: title, domain, host (or site), URL, and link. When information is entered into a record's field, some search engines allow you to retrieve it by using the correct field label in combination with your search term(s). Where available, field searching on the Web is a very powerful tool. It allows you to specify exactly where you want the search engine to look in the Web document.

TITLE SEARCHING

The title appears in the blue banner at the very top of your browser's window. If you know the subject of a page, it's a good bet that important words describing that subject will appear within its title. Searching for a keyword in the title field, rather than as a keyword alone, will very likely produce more relevant responses.

     EXAMPLE:    title: "web search tutorial"

returns pages that have these words in the title. (Title searches don't work very well with one word title entries.)

DOMAIN SEARCHING

If you are seeking information from a particular kind of site, you may choose to limit your field search to one of the current top level domains (see below):

  • edu -- educational site
  • com -- commercial business site
  • gov -- U.S. governmental/non-military site
  • mil -- U.S. military sites and agencies
  • net -- networks, internet service providers, organizations
  • org -- U.S. non-profit organizations and others

     EXAMPLE:  domain:edu AND "On the Origin of Species" AND Darwin AND paleontology
limits your search to educational sites dealing with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.

Several search engines, in their advanced search option, allow you to limit your search to a specific domain by the use of drop-down menus. One, SearchEdu, does it for you by limiting its basic search option to the .edu domain exclusively.

If you are seeking information from a particular international domain, you may choose to search the domain geographically using the two-letter country code.

     EXAMPLE:     domain:UK AND "Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford"

which limits your search to sites in the United Kingdom dealing with the Shakespearean authorship question.

NOTE: Because the Internet was created in this country, US was not originally assigned as a country letter code to U.S. domain names; however, it is used to designate state and local government hosts, including many public schools and some community colleges. Other countries have their own two letter codes as the final part of their hostnames, e.g., UK for United Kingdom; CA for Canada; FR for France, etc.

For a list of Internet Country Codes, go to: ISO's List of Country Codes

HOST (OR SITE) SEARCHING

If you are seeking information that resides on a specific computer or server, you can narrow your search with a "host" or "site" query.

     EXAMPLE:   host:www.sc.edu

returns pages hosted at the University of South Carolina.

URL SEARCHING

If you are seeking a specific file, and that file's name is part of the host site's URL, you may find it more quickly by choosing a URL search.

     EXAMPLE:   url:bck2skol

returns sites in which the filename, bck2skol, (my old course for Internet "newbies") is incorporated into the URL.

LINK SEARCHING

If you have a web page and would like to know who is linking to it, or if you would like to see who is linking to a particular page of interest, you may choose a LINK search.

     EXAMPLE:   link:www.sc.edu/beaufort/

returns pages with links to my campus of the University of South Carolina.

IMAGE SEARCHING

If you want to find a particular image on the web, you may choose an IMAGE search. You will need to specify the image by name, which works well if the name is part of the image file name. If not, you may miss that particular image altogether.

     EXAMPLE:   IMAGE:bones.gif

(Actually, I found the "dancing bones" logo that I use for this tutorial with a Boolean search as follows:  "free gifs" AND bones)

OTHER FIELDS

Other searchable fields include anchor, applet, object, text, language, sound, pictures, and date. Date is a difficult one because, depending upon the engine, a field search on the date may return the date created, the last date the page was updated, or the date the page was "spidered."

NOTE: Some field terms are written as complete words, some only consist of a letter or two (e.g., title: or t: / url: or u:). This is followed by a colon and then the first keyword. Do not leave any spaces between the field term, the colon, and the first keyword.

For some field searches, you need not enter the field terms at all.  They are already there on the advanced search page and all you need to do is fill in the information.  If you're not sure whether a search engine supports field searching, locate its "about" link and read further.  


ASSIGNMENT:

Choose one of the EXAMPLES from above and try it as a search on the "advanced" search page of Google or any other search engine that supports field searching.  


Boolean Operators                                        Troubleshooting


[Table of Contents] [Search Engines] [Metasearchers] [Subject Directories] [Gateways & Databases] [Evaluating Web Pages] [Search Strategies] [Search Tips] [Boolean Operators] [Field Searching] [Troubleshooting] [Ask] [Clusty] [Dogpile] [GigaBlast] [Google] [MSN Search] [Yahoo!] [Graveyard] [Final Exam] [Beyond Bones] [User Agreement]

Last updated by E. Chamberlain, Thursday September 07, 2006