1.      Analyze and use search engines to conduct research.

2.      Evaluate web sites.

3.      Set up and use a database on a personal computer.

4.      Analyze databases on the web for use in classroom instruction.

5.      Evaluate the use and utility of spreadsheets.

This module reviews various research and data management technology tools used in HSTE and HOSA. These include web-based searches, evaluation of material from those searches, using databases, analyzing databases for classroom instruction, and using spreadsheets.

Search Engines

 The best tools for finding resources and information on the Web are search engines.  Search engines resemble a card catalogue in a library and are used to find desired information.  Search engines use software programs known as robots, spiders, or crawlers.  These programs automatically follow hyperlinks from one document to the next around the Internet.  When they discover a new site, they send information back to the main site to be indexed.

Conducting research on the Web starts with a specific focus and questions.  If your search is not specific on the Internet, you will receive useless information and waste time screening.  The time wasted by searching is called “trashing.”  To avoid wasted time, help students develop specific questions or search terms before they begin a search.  It is also a good idea to search sites before working with students.  Students would benefit from a list of specific sites to visit as a starting point.

Remember: Information on the Internet is not peer-reviewed or censored!  Anyone can publish a Web Site, so look at all information critically and examine the source of information.  Just because it is on the Internet does not mean it is accurate or credible. To discover more about the creators of a site, click the button labeled “About” or “Who We Are.” 

Universal Resource Locator (URL)

A Universal Resource Locator is the unique address for a site on the Internet.  By looking at the URL, you can tell if the Web Site is from a company, a government office, or a non-profit organization.

.com or .net

These sites are most likely to be those of commercial, for–profit organizations.  Commercial sites want to promote their product so they may have a biased point of view.(www.ibm.com)


These are most likely a reputable academic center linked to a University.  “edu” stands for educational.   (www.duke.edu)


These are U.S. Government sites like the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.  These sites have accurate and credible information since they are not trying to promote a product. (www.fda.gov)


These sites are sponsored by the branches of the military and offer accurate and credible information.  (www.navy.mil)


This simply means “organization” and non-profits, charities, independent research centers and institutes use this designation.  Beware that political organizations and groups with specific agendas also use this URL, and they often have political biases.

Types of Searches

There are two basic types of searches:

·    Subject Indexes arrange Internet resources by subject headings.  These menus work better when looking at a broad topic and there is uncertainty of search terms to use.  They also provide actual links to those resources. Examples of subject directories are:       



·    Keyword Searches allow you to type in a word or phrase that send out spiders to find a match for what was typed.  The search engine can provide a list that is totally unrelated to the word for which is being searched. 


ExampleFor a check sheet that you can use with students for evaluating web sites that are used for biomedical searches, click here:

ExampleFor a checklist that can be used in web site evaluation, click here:





Search Tips

1.      Spell words correctly.

2.      Use Boolean search words.  (Great visual resource: http://kathyschrock.net/rbs3k/boolean/)


Search Tip




Narrows a search

Skeletal and diseases


Expands a search

Cardiac or heart


Narrows a search

Cardiac not heart


Use “quotation marks.”  This makes the words in quotes appear together in your search.  This is very useful when researching proper names or phrases.

4.   Be aware of upper and lower case sensitivity to eliminate common nouns in place of the proper nouns.  For example, if you wish to research the AIDS virus and you type aids in lower case, you may get hits like band aids, school aids, etc.  (Typing a word in lower case searches both upper and lower cases.) A great resource is Kathy’s Schrock”s  The ABC’s of Web Site Evaluation at http://kathyschrock.net./abceval/index.htm

Helpful Web Sites on Internet Searching

www.webteacher.org                             A tutorial which offers a general overview of the Internet.  Select “Web Basics.”
www.nsglobalonline.com                   Tutorials for teachers and students to begin using the Internet effectively.
www.windweaver.com/searchguide.htm     Includes basic search information and how to use various search engines.



Popular Search Engines

AllTheWeb.com (Fast Search)  http://www.alltheweb.com

Altal Vista  http://www.altavista.com

AskJeeves     http://www.askjeeves.com   (human-powered search service)

Google  http://www.google.com

HotBot   http://www.hotbot.com

LookSmart   http://www.looksmart.com

Lycos   http://www.lycos.com

MSN Search   http://search.msn.com

Yahoo   http://www.yahoo.com

About.com    http://www.about.com

Excite    http://excite.com

WebCrawler    http://www.webcrawler.com

Subscription Services

A subscription service aids the Internet user in conducting research.  One such subscription service is Karnak at http://www.karnak.com.  There is a fee for research services of this kind, therefore, read the instructions carefully.  How helpful is a subscription service?  This is what Karnak says about its research service:

  • Karnak helps you find and accumulate a personal library of knowledge. Because Karnak was designed for research, not cursory searches, it does a lot more than just find information.

  • Karnak compiles information from multiple sources, weeding out obviously bad information, storing findings in your personal library, and providing you a summarized, condensed, and highlighted report.

  • Karnak uses hundreds of Web sites to cross-reference topics, verify Internet sites, pages, and requested information, and sort out non-pertinent links. Karnak does the tedious work.

The following readings are recommended for understanding the use of research and data management tools in HSTE and HOSA.

Web Sites

CNET:  Search.com




The Boolean Machine (illustration)




Global Connections Online


Windweaver’s Search Guide


The ABC’s of Web Site Evaluation




Microsoft Access

·         Product Guide

·         Using Access

·         Template Gallery


HOSA Conference Management System and Tutorial


Databases and the World Wide Web


Microsoft Excel




Optional Text Reading

Burke, Lillian and Barbara Weill. Information Technology for the Health Professions. Prentice-Hall Inc., 2000.

  • Chapter 4: Security and Privacy in an Electronic Age



Go to the Assignments page for a listing of assignments for Module 4!

Next, let's go to the Module 5!


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