In the era of modern technology, the digital environment has become the primary space where researchers, intellectuals, and even the general public operate. This environment represents a radical shift in how knowledge and information are accessed.
Today, researchers heavily rely on the digital environment to access necessary information for their studies. However, this environment is characterized by a vast and continually increasing amount of information, making the identification and discovery of relevant information challenging and complex.
Therefore, it has become essential for researchers to possess skills and tools that help them effectively search for information in this digital environment. Some of the key skills and tools include:
- Search Engines: Programs that search available documents on the internet using keywords.
- Portals: Entry points that combine various digital educational services such as articles, theses, university papers, and scientific journals.
- Subject Directories: Specialized websites facilitating the search for terms through hierarchical topics.
- Library Indexes: Libraries providing online indexes to remotely explore their contents.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI represents a qualitative leap in developing technologies that significantly contribute to facilitating and improving research and discovery processes.
In this article, we will explain each of these skills and tools based on our humble experience to assist researchers in effectively using them in the digital environment.
1 Search Engines
The search engine is the most important tool researchers use to find information related to their research topics on the internet. It indexes web pages, stores them in a massive database, and retrieves relevant results when researchers enter keywords related to their research.
Search engines consist of:
- Spider Program: Finds new pages on the internet and adds them to the search engine’s database.
- Crawler Program: Reads the document and creates an index based on its keywords.
- Search Engine Program: Receives the search terms entered by the researcher and searches for relevant results in the database.
Some of the most famous search engines are DuckDuckGo, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex.
Refining searches using characters like “and,” “or,” “not” helps specify search requirements accurately. Quotation marks can be used to search for specific phrases, and “site:” can specify the search source. Additionally, “filetype:” can be used to specify the file type, aiding in searching for files in formats like PPTX, PDF, DOCX.
Advanced search options in Google, accessed through “Settings” and then “Advanced Search,” allow users to tailor their searches further. By employing these methods, users can enhance the efficiency of their searches and access desired information quickly and easily.
Portals serve as entry points to a mix of electronic services such as email, chat, news websites, and also provide a collection of journals, articles, theses, and university papers. Portals categorize websites and pages into thematic sections, facilitating direct access to information related to the research field.
Examples of famous portals include Google Scholar, JSTOR, CROSSREF, as well as Algerian portals like PNST.CERIST, SNDL, ASJP,Law and technology , THESES ALGERIE.
Algerian digital university repositories, such as those of the University of Algiers, University of Adrar, and University of Ouargla, provide researchers with access to online indexes.
3 Subject Directories
Subject directories are specialized online information sources that compile and organize websites and content on a thematic basis. They rely on human expertise to determine and classify websites, providing search interfaces that facilitate efficient information retrieval.
Examples : INCLUDE, DOAJ ,OPEN DIRECTORY.
4 Library Indexes
Libraries now offer their indexes online, allowing researchers to access library content and determine whether it contains useful information for their studies from a distance. Some indexes, like WorldCat and the Algerian Read Library, enable searching across the contents of thousands of libraries collectively.
Library indexes provide researchers with an easy and fast way to identify libraries that may offer sources relevant to their research topics.
5 Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence has become one of the most important skills and technologies used in information search in the digital environment. AI enhances the understanding of researchers’ information needs through context analysis and the ability to learn automatically.
AI can summarize, organize, and classify information more intelligently and beneficially for researchers, saving them time and effort. Integrating AI applications into search tools has become essential to facilitate the process of obtaining and analyzing information more efficiently.
Examples of such applications include CHATGPT, BING CHAT AI, BARD, Liaobots, and CLAUDE.
In conclusion, skills and tools for information search in the digital environment are a necessity for researchers to ensure obtaining the best results related to their research topics among the vast and increasing amount of information on the internet. In this article, we covered the most important search skills and tools, such as search engines, portals, subject directories, and library indexes, explaining how researchers can effectively use each of them in the process of searching for information in the digital environment. I hope this presentation helps researchers become familiar with these skills and tools and how to use them to improve the results of their research and efficiently access information directly related to their research topics.