Duck Duck Go: an alternative search engine

Duck Duck Go is a search engine that can be used as an alternative to search engines such as Google or Bing.

Duck Duck Go logo
Image taken from duckduckgo.com

You may not be aware that popular search engines, like Google or Bing, use your browsing history and location to tailor (or bias) their search results. This means that searching for ‘Italian restaurants’ will bring up those closest to your home. Whilst this can be beneficial for eating out, it can mean you miss out on vital information when conducting a search on an academic topic.

Duck Duck Go takes a different approach to its service and does not track your search history or use your location as part of its search algorithm. These two factors can be very important depending on the type of search you want to conduct. For example, if you wanted a global perspective on a particular medical condition then Duck Duck Go can provide results without a location bias. Additionally, the fact that Duck Duck Go does not track its users prevents your previous search history influencing future search results. This avoids a filter bubble effect where you begin to see search results that agree with what search engines presume is your opinion or interest in certain topics. As it is important to get all the relevant information, regardless of personal viewpoints, avoiding the filter bubble can be crucial when searching for information on contentious topics, such as abortion.

However, switching to Duck Duck Go doesn’t mean you have to stop using Google, or any other search engine. If at any time you want to use a different search engine add an ! followed by a pre-assigned code and Duck Duck Go will use that website’s search mechanism to run its search. For example !g will search Google and !b will search Bing.

Duck Duck Go's ! search feature
Duck Duck Go’s ! search feature (image taken from duckduckgo.com)

For more information on Duck Duck Go take a look at this interview with its creator Gabriel Weinberg.

Hunter is here!

Hunter is SGUL Library’s brand new one-stop-shop discovery tool.  It is your gateway to the Library’s resources – and more.    Click on the Hunter logo to begin your hunt for books, journal articles and more with one search

Hunter search logo

Hunter FAQs

Tell us what you think about Hunter by emailing library@sgul.ac.uk

Open-i Project – A New Image Search Engine from NLM

open-i library logoThe National Library of Medicine have created the Open-i Project,  an image search engine that aims to provide next generation information retrieval services for biomedical articles from the full text collections such as PubMed Central. Currently in the beta stage, it is unique in its ability to index both the text and images in the articles.

Open-i lets users retrieve not only the MEDLINE citation information, but also the outcome statements in the article and the most relevant figure from it. Further, it is possible to use the figure as a query component to find other relevant images or other visually similar images. Future stages aim to provide image region-of-interest (ROI) based querying. The initial number of images is projected to be around 600,000 and will scale to millions. The extensive image analysis and indexing and deep text analysis and indexing require distributed computing.

(http://openi.nlm.nih.gov/about.php)

Users can search by ‘Citation List’ or ‘Image Grid’. In Image Grid View in Open-i, users are able to limit searches by image type, there is also the interesting feature of being able to ‘Query by Image’ ;  if an image is uploaded, the engine will search the database for a close match.

Screenshot of Image view from open 1 projectExample of a search return in  Image Grid View

SciVerse – new integrated search from Elsevier

From Elsevier’s website  “Elsevier is launching SciVerse to bring together solutions like ScienceDirect, Scopus, the web content from Scirus, and SciTopics into one point of access, enabling more efficient search and discovery for our users.”

SciVerse Hub Beta will be launched on August 28th, 2010, coinciding with the launch of three SciVerse Applications as well as interoperability enhancements to both the SciVerse ScienceDirect and SciVerse Scopus platforms.

Further information is available here: http://www.acceleratescience.com/faq

Wolfram|Alpha: a new computational knowledge engine

A new Web tool, Wolfram | Alpha,  went live on 18th May. It is described as a computational knowledge engine, rather than a search engine like Google. It aims to bring back answers to queries rather than a list of links to websites.

The website states “Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.”

For example:

  • enter France, and it will bring back lots of information and stats related to France.
  • enter France restaurants and it responds “Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.”

More example searches can be found on the website. It is the brainchild of a British physicist Stephen Wolfram.

The BBC covers it is more detail in its article here, and a summary of responses from the media so far can be found here.

Resourceshelf has a very useful round-up of its features here:
http://www.resourceshelf.com/2009/05/17/fast-facts-anyone-a-brief-users-guide-to-wolframalpha/

Another interesting review here by Nova Spivak:
http://www.twine.com/item/122mz8lz9-4c/wolfram-alpha-is-coming-and-it-could-be-as-important-as-google

Search engine tips – easy to use features for better search results

Here are two easy to use features to improve search results:

  • Search in web page title only for term (s)
    • use Advanced Search Options > Where your keywords show up > title  OR
    • in search box enter intitle:<search term(s)>
    • eg intitle:”stem cells”
  • Limit search by domain or site
    • use Advanced Search Options > Search within a site or domain  OR
    • in search box enter <search terms> site:<domain or site address>
    • eg “stem cellssite:ac.uk
  • You can also use them together:
    • eg intitle:”stem cells” site:gov

Several engines support these features eg Google, Yahoo! Live, Ask

Blog search engines eg Google blog search have similar features:

  • eg blogurl:ac.uk inposttitle:”stem cells”