This paper will show comparisons of search engine results for the search parameters of dissertations written in the field of distance learning from the year of 1990 and greater. The comparisons will cover the following criteria: accuracy of displayed results; the number of relevant results; ranking of results; topicality of results; usefulness of the advanced search parameters. The search engines to be reviewed will be: Google; Bing; Yahoo; AlltheWeb; Alta Vista; Vivisimo; Teoma.
Google finds the exact words in the search parameters within the Scholar section of Google. If using all of Google, it finds the exact search parameters. The Google Scholar found 53,000. The regular Google found 105,000. Google Scholar ranks according to wording of search with some logic. Regular Google ranks according to wording of search by logic and companies that are selling the dissertations. It actually gives the documents in HTML or PDF format. The Advanced Search function in either regular or scholar Google allows the user to narrow the article by all or a specific word. It also narrows the search by author, publication, date, and subject areas that it provides.
Bing has looks “unfinished”. The US-based service is the most complete: switch to it by clicking your country name at the top-right. Region-specific versions for the UK and other locales are expected within a few weeks. It is a “decision engine” because it refines results more carefully and offers topics of related interest. It will “recognize your search terms and offer refinements in a menu on the left….For example, enter “Star Trek” and it will offer the top results plus links to images, cast details, wallpapers, the theme tune, DVDs and episode guides”(Bing). Still more to follow about its capabilities in researching distance learning from the year of 1990 and greater but so far it points Google’s content out and allows you to view the first page of some documents with the “mouse-over” feature.
Yahoo tries to match your search term with what it has on file as you type it. It gives suggestions for your search terms. The search results in 114,000. It ranks according to word matching. Some hits are on target but others are just pulled because of words in the search matching with a pattern. The Advanced Search would help with exact phrases, site domains, file formats, and languages.
AlltheWeb has an accuracy that is mixed because it brings up dissertations and courses with the matching search parameters in the first 10 search results. 244,000 results were found. Sponsor relationships are shown by the search results showing school courses and dissertations. It is hard to find the dissertations when mixed in with advertisements for schools and journals. It has exact phrase which may be the best part of this Advanced Search feature for this search engine. The user can also filer certain domains out of the search parameters. Dates can also be specified.
Alta Vista is mixed due to the large sponsorship dedicated to this search engine. There are some relevant searches but they are mixed into to advertisements. 257,000 results were found. Sponsors tended to have higher ranking then relevant documents. They were mostly dedicated to education but sponsors were mixed in which was hard to decipher which results were actual documents. Exact, Date, and Format were some useful features of the Advanced Search function.
Vivisimo shows Sponsors, Abstracts of papers and some papers are that relate to the search parameters. Search results are somewhat off target. 7,140 results were found. It looks for online schools before it will look for publications. Publications are sixth on the list for it to find. It is sponsor-oriented. It is not that helpful. The Advanced Search feature can limit by language, domain, and file format type. This is not that helpful when there are other search engines to use.
Teoma shows Graduate programs, courses, articles, papers, dissertations, and sponsors in the search results. It will ask if you want to look at Full Text Dissertations. This will take the user to databases that can give you dissertations. 47, 600 results were found. It looks for the subject area with high ranking given to sponsors. It finds the subject but it does not give a good mixture of dissertations. The subjects are related to the sponsors and not to any papers. The user will have to keep clicking on suggested links that may take the user to the dissertation that they want but it is time consuming. The Advanced Search feature may be helpful with the exact phrase, domain, country, or language. This search engine is too sponsor-oriented.