Recently, I came across Google Zeitgeist where you can see the search trends of the world or select any country to see individual fads. Look at New Zealand to see what was all the rage last year e.g. Did you know the most searched recipe is the pancake followed by banana cake, chocolate cake, chicken and playdough?
What it does : (from Google Zeitgeist: How we did this)
We studied an aggregation of over one trillion searches (or queries) that people typed into Google Search this year. We used data from multiple sources, including Google Trends and internal data tools. We filtered out spam and repeat queries to build lists that best reflect the spirit of 2012.
I was interested to see that the most looked up How to in New Zealand was How to screenshot. It led the pack which included how to love; how to study and how to geocache. Coincidentally, I showed several students how to take a screenshot only yesterday in the Library so they could save their search histories found in CINAHL and Proquest databases. So in case you want to know how, read on:
Quick tip for creating a shot of any screen on your computer at CPIT :
1. Select the windows icon in the bottom left
2. type snip in the bottom search box
3. Select snipping tool
4. The screen will go cloudy and you can draw a box around the area to capture.
5. Select File / Save as to save your image to your desktop, etc. Then you can send it as an email attachment or insert it into a word document, etc.
For more tips you can check out our FAQs in this blog or to continue with the spirit of the times go back to Google Zeitgeist .
Here’s a tip for quickly finding synonyms (i.e. different words that have the same meaning).
Type a word into MS Word or Outlook email, highlight it with your left mouse button, then right mouse click on the highlighted word. A list of options will appear – select synonyms. You’ll often get a list of alternative words but there will also be a link to a thesaurus, so you can click that to see more suggestions.
Another trick is to use Google. Just enter define: (define colon space) followed by the word. e.g. define: thesaurus. If that doesn’t provide enough info, try clicking the extra links below the entry (see image below). The Merriam Webster dictionary even provides suggestions for words that rhyme with your word, e.g. thesaurus – Centaurus, sonorous.
These could be really handy tools if you’re trying to think of synonyms when preparing a database search, or if you want to come up with a different word to use in an essay.
If you want to explore word meanings in more depth, try the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which contains over 600,000 words and is considered the best authority on the meaning, history and pronunciation of the English language. Bookmark the OED now or add it to your Favourites – it’s bound to come in handy!
If you want a bit of a technofix read this article from last Saturday’s Guardian News on Google’s knowledge graph, a database of the 500 million most searched for people, places and things in the Google world which leaves us to wonder – “where will search go next?”
“When John Battelle wrote his book The Search ( How Google And Its Rivals Rewrote The Rules Of Business And Transformed Our Culture, 2006) … he concluded by imagining a future directly out of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction. “All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected. But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships. A timeless interval was spent doing that…Knowledge Graph, you might say, is the beginning of that “timeless interval”. ”
If you are a bit of a technology junkie then you might also like BBC World’s “Click” – You can record it if you have Sky or cable TV or you can view some of the latest tech video shows online e.g. The tech highlights of 2012
You can use the following checklist to decide whether your website is authoritative.
Website evaluation checklist
- What credentials does the author / creator have? Can you find other evidence of these credentials? Try Googling the author to find out anything else that might verify credentials.
- Read the “About us” on the web page. What is the purpose of the website? Is there evidence here to support the accuracy and reliability of the website’s content.
- Is the website biased?
- Is there a date on the website? Is it regularly updated? Never use undated statistical or factual information.
- Are there references to the website’s own sources of information? How reliable are these sources?
Here are some websites that are hoaxes – How do they measure up against the checklist?
Moonbeam Enterprises – Want to vacation on the moon?
California’s velcro crop
To improve the quality of your Google search results you can use Google Scholar and Google Advanced Search:
- To find it search Google for “ Scholar“. Click the first link to open it.
- Add the link or URL to your bookmarks toolbar or favourites toolbar for quick access.
- Google Scholar will find authoritative information including peer-reviewed articles, books, and more.
- (Click here to find out “What is a peer-reviewed article?”)
- To find it search Google for “Advanced“.
- Click on the first link to open Google Advanced.
- Add the Google Advanced link or URL to your bookmarks toolbar or favourites toolbar for quick access.
To find Google Advanced you can also
a. select the Gear icon in the right of the screen after your first Google Search then
b. select Google Advanced.
Using Google Advanced:
- Enter your search terms
- Add an authoritative site or domain extension in the “Site or domain” area e.g. .govt.nz is used in the example below.
- Press “enter” on your keyboard to activate the search.
Some examples of New Zealand Domain name extensions
The websites which use the following domain name extensions in blue have been either moderated by an expert panel or are more likely to include authoritative information useful for tertiary studies.
For more information on domain name extensions
Read page 10. for current second level NZ domain names as of September 2012 from the Domain Name Commission
Read here for the moderated NZ domain names i.e domains that are checked for greater authority from the Domain Name Commission
Read here for International domain name extensions from Wikipedia
e.g. Site or domain .au to find Australian websites,
.jp to find Japanese websites, etc.
.mobi to find mobile compatible sites
Become a Google aficionado and read Miller, M (2008) Googlepedia or quickly learn some awesome Google search techniques delivered by a Google Research scientist, Russell Beck and investigative reporter John Tedesco who attended his seminar.
John Tedesco, investigative reporter for a paper in San Antonio, shares some key tips from an amazing talk by Daniel Russell, a research scientist at Google. Russell, presented his favorite search tools, methods and perspectives to help you find the impossible.
You can also hone your Google search techniques by reading the following in our library:
Miller, M. (2008) Googlepedia
Ledford, J. (2007) Google powered
Mayo-Smith, D. (2007) 101 quick tips : email and Google
Students are frequently recommended not to use Wikipedia and Google when researching for assignments and this is to encourage you to use the Library databases which are purchased because of their relevance to the topics you are studying. However, there is a place for other resources particularly in the initial stages of research. It is beneficial to check on Google that you have the correct spelling of a term or that you understand the meaning of the phrase you are researching. Reading an article about your topic on Wikipedia may give you some starting points – keywords and directions to commence your research. Wikipedia articles frequently include a reference list for articles the writers have referred to and many of these can be located through the CPIT databases.
An alternative source is Google Scholar which includes a vast collection of resources from reputable sources. If full text is available there will be a link from the results page.
Google Scholar claims that it:
“……provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature.
From one place, you can search across many disciplines and
sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions,
from academic publishers, professional societies, online
repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar
helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.”
”Google Scholar aims to rank documents the way researchers do,
weighing the full text of each document, where it was published, who
it was written by, as well as how often and how recently it has been
cited in other scholarly literature.”
From About Google Scholar