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Do you think you can search?

Ever wondered why your searches don’t return what you’re looking for although you know it’s out there, and as a result; blamed the adequacy of the search engine?

In a guest article in ‘Overload Stories’, Cody Burke, senior analyst at Basex, reports on findings revealing that the majority of people have a very poor ability to use search tools effectively. The first item brought to light being statistics derived from a search anthropologist at Google who’s study showed that 90 % of computer users don’t know how to search locally for keywords in a text document, PDF, e-mail or Web page using CTRL + F (PC) or Command + F (Mac).

Secondly, results from the Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries project (Erial) that was conducted over 2 years, showed that only 7 out of 30 students could conduct a well-executed search, as considered by a librarian. Students failed to run searches that would return good results by choosing the wrong search engine or database appropriate for their search needs. They were also unsuccessful when it came to formulate their search queries using Boolean logic and would as a result of their ‘search failure’, change the research topic to one that would be easier to find information on.

Burke concludes that there is an undoubted need to teach students basic search techniques, so that they’re able to take advantage of the different search tools and technology available today.