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May 13, 2011

Blog Article on Searching - Plus, Martha!

Martha Hardy shared this interesting blog post on Facebook a couple of days ago. It's a Swarthmore History professor's take on teaching undergraduate students how to frame searches. In spite of the fact that it's about undergrads in the humanities, the author makes what I feel are still relevant and interesting assertions about searching strategies. I especially enjoyed Martha's back and forth with him in the comments.

Key points, but read the whole article - it's worthwhile:

  1. Rapid iterability of search is important.

  2. Always prefer databases that default to simple interfaces. Databases that default to advanced interfaces (or worse yet, require them) are committing aggression towards anyone who is not already an expert user of such a database.

  3. Work consciously on developing and refining heuristics for interpreting lists of search results.

  4. How to generate and harvest keywords across multiple searches.

  5. Associations and folksonomies are underutilized and powerful (but don't forget bibliographies).

  6. Balancing triage and intellectual depth.