Search - Desktop & Online

These programs are useful in research of all types - gathering, storing, sorting, selecting, organizing, generating data, hypotheses, concepts.

Name Comments
Google Search Tips

What it Does: How to search effectively via Google
Runs on: Web
Free
Best Feature: Can focus/narrow searches
Worst Feature: Must memorize to be effective.
Learning Time: Minutes ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: My most useful is "site:drexel.edu" - it finds stuff that Drexel search engine buries.
Search note: To make Google more effective e.g using "site:edu" to restrict searches
Review & Comments about Google Search Tips in Academic Tools Blog
Google Scholar

What it Does: Web search of scholarly material
Runs on: Web
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Focus on the scholarly material - reduced irrelevant "hits".
Worst Feature: Doesn't index everything (nor does any other service).
Learning Time: Minutes ---
Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: If you're off-campus access it through the library to have access to full-text of many services. They'll appear automatically in the results.
Review & Comments about Google Scholar in Academic Tools Blog
Google Alerts

What it Does: Sends EMails about news based on your search criteria
Runs on: Web
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Works as promised
Worst Feature: The user can sometimes be deluged with emails.
Learning Time: Minutes ---
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: It's wise to test your search first to be sure you're getting the kinds of things you want.
Review & Comments about Google Alerts in Academic Tools Blog
Google Reader

What it Does: Follow online (RSS) blogs and newsfeeds
Runs on: Web
Best Feature: Very clean interface.
Worst Feature: Must memorize a few keystrokes to be efficient with the (typical) vast number of items that arrive daily.
Learning Time: Half Hour ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: This is another fast-changing field with multiple options.
Search note: Follow Blogs
Find and Run Robot

What it Does: Finds things you use regularly on your machine
Runs on: PC only
Free
Best Feature: Quick easy way of starting many programs and files.
Worst Feature: A bit slow finding files not used regularly.
Learning Time: Minutes ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: A near-ideal tool for a single purpose. Once you're comfortable with it you should explore the capability of customizing the "rules" it uses to sort what it finds.
Review & Comments about Find and Run Robot in Academic Tools Blog
Firefox

What it Does: Web browser
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free, Open Source
Best Feature: Add-ins that provide additional fucntions.
Worst Feature: Many large institutions are not friendly to FF - e.g. Drexel.
Learning Time: Half Hour ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I use Adblock, NoScript, and All-In-One Sidebar extensions a lot.
Review & Comments about Firefox in Academic Tools Blog
Flickr

What it Does: Web Image search and storage
Runs on: Web
Free
Best Feature: Widely used and therefor good collection of images.
Worst Feature: Interface is confusing
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Share photos - I take advantage of "family and friends" to limit those that aren't interesting to a wider audience.
You have to pay for extensive use, but not a lot.
Search note: Images search - large pool
Linkman

What it Does: URL storage and retrieval
Runs on: PC only - Uses Web
Price: $30
Best Feature: Great control and search in a large collection of URL's
Worst Feature: Not being further developed.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: There are many URL capture tools, most of them are free. This one is useful only for someone capturing a lot and wanting to run searches.
Onfolio

What it Does: Web clip, page and note taking
Runs on: PC only
Free
Best Feature: Good interface
Worst Feature: MS is limiting it to IE and removing features (academic) that were useful.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Medium
Comment: If you use Internet Explorer it's a very good, free tool to collect and report web-based information.
Search note: For capturing web search data
Yahoo Desktop Search (X1)

What it Does: Local (and web) computer search
Runs on: PC only
Free
Best Feature: Fast, clean search
Worst Feature: Cannot look in proprietary formats such as FileMaker
Learning Time: Half Hour ---
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Search your EMails, documents, contacts etc. Provides a tabular output that I find easier than Google Desktop.
Google Desktop is much more familiar to most people.

 

 

Update: 2006-11-26