African Journal of Food Agriculture Nutrition and Development, Vol. 5, No. 1 , 2005
Searching the World Wide Web
EG Dicks and WH Oldewage-Theron
Code Number: nd05004
Sometimes it can be very frustrating to search the World Wide Web (WWW) because you can either get nothing, or so many links that you will not be able to see all of it. This is because the WWW is not indexed in a standard vocabulary like that which is found in Libraries. In searching the WWW, you are searching text in documents selected for inclusion in the particular search tool database you are using. As authors of this article, we have not attempted to give all the available detail on WWW searching, but to provide the readers with information we have found useful during our searches on the WWW.
Many medical, food science and nutritional journals are now available online. However, most of these require subscription before access is granted to full text articles. It is recommended that the readers should contact their local libraries to assist in this regard. Some journals have full texts available free of charge and have a homepage where information on the journal is made available, or where abstracts can be accessed. Also, author’s instructions can be obtained from the home page, should you want to write a scientific paper or information abstract for the particular journal.
Rules for the Internet searcher
Carefully choose a starting point. There are web search engines, which can be the quickest way to start. The problem is that many sites contain unnecessary information and also lack all the possible information. It is, however, a good starting point to attain a quick overview. Specialized sites contain links with other similar sites, which may include search engines though intuition or a guess may sometimes be the quickest way to find a particular site. There are also FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and discussion groups (Keep the question as short as possible and please remember to be polite to a specific user in the group and make sure to send a ‘thank you’ afterwards).
Do not accept failure too quickly and as such do not give up if a search programme responds, “nothing found” as there are different starting points and methods to use and somewhere along the line you may get lucky.
Do not accept success too quickly and therefore if you find what you wanted, it is not the end of the road because there might be better information available much faster should you use another method of searching.
According to Van der
Walt  the steps in searching the web include the following:
1. Analyse your topic before you begin
To start, think of variants, synonyms and related themes to find what you want. The commonly used words may get irrelevant documents containing the word searched for but may not be related to your subject.
The success of searches
depends on the following:
2. Boolean operators
The Boolean techniques of searching provides you with the power to narrow down your search to a reasonable number of potentially useful documents . With the Boolean search, keywords or phrases are combined with AND, OR, NOT to get more precise results.
Concept Appearance Meaning
The search string can be simple or very complex. More keywords for all the combinations can be used, for example cat OR dog OR pet OR pets and so on .
Truncation is an integral part of keyword searching as it allows the user to incorporate variant word endings into a search. It is used to search a word stem and retrieve all variations of the stem.  It can match anything for example micro* would match words that begin with micro.
4. Interpret each unique search screen
Each search engine has its own unique search screen with a simple or an advanced option. It is recommended that a beginner should start with the “simple” option and then proceed to the “advanced” option. It will either have a facility where you have to select from a list of topics or to search by words that you have to type. Make use of the Boolean operators in this section if the search engine supports it. Click on search/find to start the process. Some search engines give the option to select language, dates etc .
6. Search tips
Van der Walt  listed some tips for searching the WWW:
1. Check your spelling.
7. Criteria for evaluation of information on the WWW
1. Evaluate the scope
of the site by looking for the statement or the purpose of the site,
statements of the scope and limitations that may apply and site
Copyright 2005 - Rural Outreach Program