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Information Literacy Tutorial: Module 4 - Search Tool Summary

The Information Literacy Tutorial is designed to enhance your information research skills. Through it, you will learn how best to exploit library resources, to look for useful information, and how to evaluate and cite information sources.

PowerSearch vs. Open Search Engines

PowerSearch Individual Databases Open Search Engines

Find and locate materials collected by the Library.

 Library Catalog: Search at "macr" level, i.e., find books, journals, magazines, DVDs,

Primo Central : Search at "micro" chapters , journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, reviews, etc.

Can search both online & paper

Find journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, reviews, statistics, etc.

Can search both online & paper

  Search information on the Web
Link to e-version, if available Many provide full text articles or books, or link to full text using find at hkust May or may not provide full text access.
Provides Access for HKUST people Require subscription $$$ [paid by library] Open Access
Good quality control since the library materials are selected by librarians or recommended by faculty and students, based on their relevancy to the university's research and teaching needs. Quality control as databases are selected by librarians, based on:
  • Content coverage & university's research and teaching needs.
  • Interface design and ease of use.
  • Functionalities.
  • User recommendation
No quality control, anyone can publish on the Web.

Information is not stable; url and content may change or disappear.



 PowerSearch  is HKUST Library's main search tool.  It has three components:

  • Library Catalog:  searches books (e-books & print), DVDs, Videos & Music (streaming & DVD, CD, etc.)
  • PrimoCentral: searches articles from the majority of the Library's subscribed dtabases
  • HKALL: Searches the catalogs of all UGC-Supported Libraries and allows you to request loanable items

This guide will help you use and answer questions you may have on using it.




Open Search Engines

Search engine characteristics:

  • Use a computer program called Spider to gather Web information
  • Search results are ranked by relevancy instead of by quality
  • Keyword-based search

Examples of search engine: GoogleYahoo , Baidu (百度) 

Tips for effective searching:

  • Identify the major concepts of your search.
  • Choose relevant keywords that describe these concepts.
  • Use search operators to control your search and filter your results. Search operators may vary among different search engines.
  • See related research guide: Google Search Tips & Tricks

This table lists some common search operators used in Google. Google’s default behavior is to find web documents that include all the words you entered.

Operators Meaning Example
OR Search for either word education OR technology
" " Find an exact phase or word "global warming"
- Exclude words from a search "star wars" -movie
+ A word or phrase preceded by a + must be present in pages retrieved +"youth problems"
define: Find definition of a given word define:library
filetype: Find a specific file type democracy filetype:ppt
marketing filetype:doc
* Fill in the missing information The "334" new academic structure *
site: Search only the selected site or domain "education policy"
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