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Information Retrieval Tools

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I have searched for the NHS (National Heal Service) because I know it is a public sector that gives out allot of information. Most of the information is important and can be very helpful. I also searched for this term so that I can improve my knowledge on how to prevent illnesses for example the flu. I have used a database to carry out my searches. I used Emerald because it was the best tool to use as it offers Boolean, limiting search, and proximity.

I have combined these terms using many functions that were available on Emerald. These were Boolean logic, using the AND, or OR, limiting the search, and phrase search. These functions allowed me to broaden my search and helped me to narrow the information. I have used all of these functions so that I can get a really good quality of information that will help me with my study. The only reason why I narrowed and broadened my search was to get a good authority of the material. Having a good source of authority (quality) will help me to receive maximum quality of information that is available. Phrase search is a good function but by on its own, it is not effective. This is the reason why I used phrase search with the other functions so the results would be high in quality.

I have also searched for terms in particular fields for example, I have searched for NHS as a phrase search. I have also use the Boolean OR and AND at the same time. In those fields I have typed health and in the other safety. To narrow the search down I have limited the search, clicked on the dropdown list, and selected abstract because the abstract has an overview of the information so if I clicked search it would look at all the particular fields and find the information I want. An example is below…

Source Evaluation

Most searching tools help us believe that we are getting the correct information as we search for things. To a certain extent, this is not true, as I believe that searching for information must be carried out using only formal information. To avoid misleading information, I will talk about information retrieval tools and will explain in depth of what Information science is and how the ideas from information science are being applied in the world.

Information management means gathering information and managing information. It basically focuses on information as a resource. Information management and knowledge management is being applied around the world due to the amount of information that is available around us.

Search Engines

A search engine is a program that searches documents for specified keywords and returns a list of the documents where the keywords were found. An example would be Google. I strongly believe that Google as a search engine is one of the most effective tools to use as it offers incredible sources of information. The strength of Google is the amount of information they have, which is more than 8 billion URL’s. The Common weakness of Google is that people face obstacles such as information overload.

The authority

The authority of the results is not always high in quality because there are too much information that is not needed. The accuracy is just not great as demanded.

The proximity is not too great as it detects phrase matches even when the quotes are not used and usually ranks phrase matches higher. You can narrow your search down using exact word or phrase to find a better resource.

You can also write down unwanted words that can narrow down the search and will keep the quality of information high. This will increase the proximity, as the information that is searched will be found.

The Coverage

Search engines are normally up to date because if you search for something that is new, it always comes up. The type of material that comes up depends on what you search for. If I were to search for NHS, the material that comes up will be about health and care. The files may vary from each search as some results will be about articles and some will be about journals. The information is available in all around the world which means it is geographically available for example if I were to be in Turkey, I just have to go on to the correct search engine that would be www.google.tr, similarly it’s the same in other countries.

The Functionality

Functionality is very important because every person would want to find the correct information and to do this, there must be functions that can be used for example, phrase search, Boolean, limiting the search, truncation, alternative search and etc. One valued function is phrase match which can be very useful whilst searching for information. Combining Boolean with phrase search can be very effective.


Databases are commonly used to find important information as it allows people to search, find and store vital information. It allows users to locate, and narrow searches to find what they are looking for. I will use Emerald as an example because Emerald is a well known database which has a lot of sources of information which is available. I will use emerald to search for information because it has more than 3,000 university libraries worldwide that subscribe to Emerald journal collections.

(2) The strengths of Emerald are that it has reduced redundancy, which is great because nobody wants unnecessary data. This also prevents information overload. The weakness is that if the database is hacked or changed, it will affect the whole system .

The Authority

The quality of information is very high because Emerald has its own authors located around the world. Emerald also has a number of awards and research grants around the world. This makes the quality high because if you search for something on Emerald you can check the abstract that shows reviews and comments made by authors around the world. You can also check emerald from Metalib that shows the Information about the resource. It also shows the categories that are available. The proximity helps us to find information that is together and Emerald has this function as it allows users to find two data in one. This can also be useful whilst searching for information.

The Coverage

Emerald is always up to date as it gets new information in everyday. The type of material usually depends on what has been searched. An example would be NHS. Searching NHS gives us many information, but the material is also important.

Emerald gives out articles, journals, books, bibliographic databases and many other useful materials. The geographical coverage is international and exclusive because many business and management departments use this database worldwide.


Emerald has many functions, which helps users to locate and narrow down the search making it easier for them to find what they are looking for. The functions allow us to break down information and to keep the information simple. One of the most outstanding tool of Emerald is to use the Boolean because it allows information to be looked at in different parts for example you can limit a search by clicking on the drop down list which provides a list of certain things which you can select to help you narrow down and broaden the information. Boolean is also available in the search.


Portals are similar to databases but they are a little different because they gain access to a multitude of services that allow people around the world to search for information. An example would be Intute. Intute allows you to find web resources for your studies and research.

Intute also has millions of resources available on the internet. The weakness of this tool is that you cannot search for different topics for example if you searched sports, the website will not find anything that is relevant to it.


The quality is not as great as the databases results, but it is still useful to use because the information has been reviewed and evaluated. It also has thousands of other resources to help you choose key websites in your subject areas. You can also see the quality of the material by clicking on more details which gives an overview of the information inside. This can save time and will make searching much more effective.

The coverage

The geographical coverage is very low due to the fact that it was launched in 2006 that makes the website new. Many people do not know about the site, which explains why a few people visit it daily. Intute is up to date and keeps new information each time you go on the site. The material types are not as expected because most of the information is just from websites It is rare to see a full text article. The subject matter is well accomplished as the user always finds something that is relevant to the subject they search for it.


Using Intute to search for information is useful because it has many functions that allow you to narrow and broaden your search. This makes the information effective because as you narrow down searches, the information you get will have a higher chance of being relevant to the subject you searched for. Using the advance search, you can limit your search with the drop down list and search for a particular field of aspect. One other intelligent function is the tick boxes which allow you to pick the certain subject areas.


(1) http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/S/search_engine.html (23rd October 23, 2010) (2:45pm)

(2) http://www.emeraldinsight.com/about/index.htm

(23rd October 24, 2010) (19:15)

(3) Teaching Information Literacy for Inquiry Based Learning – Mark Hepworth and Geoff Walton

(Chapter 10, page 169 – 170)

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