Conducting Electronic Research

Meta Search

A Meta search is a simultaneous search of a number of directories or search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, MSN Search and Ask.com. They are conducted in the same way as a simple or an advanced search, just more than one at a time. In other words they are keyword driven. Here is a short list of Meta search sites:

Steps of a Meta Search Using Dogpile

Step One

The following demonstration illustrates a Meta search by an engineering student for source material on the subject of close tolerances in machined parts. A preliminary list of keywords might include the following words and phrases:

The researcher uses Dogpile to look for a selection from the list above. Feel free to click on Dogpile and become the researcher yourself.

The screen-shot below illustrates the home page after first step has been taken. As you can see, the Dogpile home page resembles other Web site search engines. It has a primary search field and an Advanced Search option link located to the right of the Go Fetch button. The distinguishing feature is the list of search engines that it will simultaneously search.

Screen shot of Dogpile Search

Step Two

Using a Meta search engine early in your research provides an opportunity to quickly compare a number of search engines for the caliber of their results. The screen-shot below illustrates the results delivered after machined tolerance was selected from the list above and entered into the search field.

As you can see, the Meta search yielded 88 results. These are the combined results. Notice the individual search engine link buttons in the light-blue bar at the top of the page. Clicking on them will display the specific results returned by each Web site.

Screen shot of Dogpile Search

Step Three

Again, notice the individual search engine link buttons in the light-blue bar at the top of the page. Clicking on them will display the specific results returned by each Web site. The screen-shot below illustrates the results page after the researcher has opened two of the search site options.

As you can see, the top selections of Google and Ask.com have been displayed on the right side of the browser window. Try placing your cursor over the blue border of one of these new display panels. A right-left pointing arrow will appear allowing you to drag the panel's edge and expand its size.

Screen shot of Dogpile Search

Step Four

Notice there is an X button in the upper right hand corner of each panel allowing them to be closed individually. The next screen-shot displays the page after the researcher has clicked on the More Engines option located in the light-blue search bar to the right of the visible Web site buttons, closed Ask.com and replaced it with the About search site.

On your own, spend a few minutes exploring Dogpile to become more familiar with how a Meta search engine works. You'll quickly get the hang of it; try some of the other meta search engine sites as well.

Screen shot of Dogpile Search

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Introduction