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Finding Information

18 March 2009 40,325 views No Comment

google_yahooWhat did people do before the internet and search engines arrived?

I’m guessing that for the most part the consultant’s words were the ‘be all and end all’ of finding information. Digging around in medical libraries would have been time consuming and frustating without prior experience in this area. Digging around in a general library would have offered very little.

Now, however, the first step for many after the visit to the consultant, will be to open Google and see what the web has to say about a particular cancer or treatment regime.

Google Advanced Search

If you’re not already familiar with all the tips and tools available to help with finding information it can be worth 15 minutes reading up on the ‘Advanced Search Tips’ page on Google. The ability to use synonyms with ‘OR’ to improve the number of hits, or phrases “enclosed in double quotes” to narrow things down and there again the ‘-‘ minus sign to -exclude -words can sometimes be of great help.

Alternative Search Engines

Trying other Search Engines may be worthwhile. Alta Vista for instance includes the ability to include dates in your search making it easier to exclude older information. Dogpile will search several other search engines in one hit and can be worth a trry.

Scientific or Scholarly Seaching

If you do have a more scientific background and want to look for more scholarly articles then Google helpfully provides its Scholar Search. The whole area of improving searches for the scientific community is benefiting from new approaches. You could take a look at the Vadlo and NextBio search engines. For any searches relating to cancer you will almost certainly get lots of hits from that massive database of information known as PubMed which I’ve just discovered has it’s own specialised search engine – GoPubMed which looks interesting but is new to me too!

Taking Notes – try Opera

If you want to take notes while keeping track of links and to have the ability to sort the notes into folders then give the speedy Opera a try. I find the Speed Dial really useful as well – a bit like the bookmark page in Chrome but more controllable.

A reminder – just take care not to get diverted from the original point of the search!!

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