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Library - Information Literacy Module: Tutorial 6: Using the Internet

Information literacy for UJ students. Start with "1 Why Information Literacy" and end with "9 Writing & Referencing"

STEP 1: Search engines

A search engine is a software program that helps people find the information they are looking for online using keywords or phrases. Search engines are able to return results quickly—even with millions of websites online—by scanning the Internet continuously and indexing every page they find (BDC, n.d.) 


  • The indexes of search engines are usually vast, representing significant portions of the Internet, offering a wide variety and quantity of information resources.The large number and variety of search engines enrich the Internet, making it at least appear to be organised.
  • In addition to keywords, search engines let Neo use advanced search options to refine his results. These options help make Neo's searches more flexible and sophisticated.
  • Good source to locate scholarly information


  • Anyone can publish information on the Internet
  • No bibliographic control on published  information
  • Content and features of sites change very fast
  • Creates information overload


General: Google, Google Scholar, Bing (Microsoft's search engine).

STEP 2: Google tips

Internet searches, such as using the search engine ‘Google’ will give Neo different types of information than searching a scholarly journal database.

Recognise official links as opposed to commercial websites.
• .edu (It sometimes means it is related to educational or research material)
• .gov (It usually means it is related to government resources ).
• .org (It usually is related to official organisations, eg. United Nations)

Google will also provide ‘related searches’ that might help Neo to narrow down his research topic. For example, Neo needs information on the postmodern theorist Fredric Jameson.

Scroll down to bottom of the page and look at what type of information it provides. This might help him to narrow down his search.

• Put quotation marks "__" around words that one wants to search as a phrase; i.e. “semiotics analysis"
• To remove a word from a search, use the hyphen (minus sign) - just in front of the word; i.e. semiotics theorists
• -Barthes (excludes search term)
• -COM will remove commercial sites from one's results.
• To search colleges & university sites, use site: edu as part of one's search. Neo can use site: with any domain. Must be a lower case (s) in site. No suffixes. E.g
• A plus + symbol in front of a word means the word will definitely be in the search; i.e. +“barthes“
• .. Shows all results from within the designated time range, e.g 2008..2013.
• Just put define:… in front of the word one wants, e.g define: semiotics.