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INTERNET CONCEPTS

MODULE 1

An introduction to Internet concepts and using Internet resources.

  • 1. Introduction to the Internet

This workbook accompanies the PowerPoint presentation intended to introduce you to Internet concepts. The workbook will guide you through exercises whilst connected

to the Internet.

  • 2. A Network of Information Networks

The Internet is a worldwide system of interconnected computer networks. The computers and computer networks exchange information using TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) to communicate with each other. The computers are connected via the telecommunications networks, and the Internet can be used for e-mailing, transferring files and accessing information on the World Wide Web.

Examples of information networks connected by the Internet include those of libraries, hospitals, research centres, government departments and universities. It is possible to connect to local organisations as well as those on national and international networks. For example the WHO Library is an international organisation with an internet address http://www.who.int/library/.

  • 2.1. Development

The Internet was initially developed to allow computers to share scientific and military information and was known as ARPANET in the late 1960s. Further development was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the 1980s to develop internet communications to link several university computing departments. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee and others working at CERN proposed a new communications protocol for information transfer. This technology was based on a hypertext system and lead to the development of the World Wide Web in the 1990s.

  • 2.2. The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web is a system of internet servers that use HTTP (Hypertext

Transfer Protocol) to transfer documents formatted in HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language). These are viewed by using software for web browsers such as Netscape and Internet Explorer. Hypertext enables a document to be connected to other documents on the web through hyperlinks. It is possible to move from one document to another by using hyperlinked text found within web pages.

The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the global address of documents and other resources on the web e.g. http://www.who.int. The first part of the address indicates which protocol to use e.g. http. The second part of the address identifies the domain name or the internet address where the information is located.

The address bar is the toolbar displayed at the top of the screen when you open the internet browser.

The address bar is the toolbar displayed at the top of the screen when you open

Exercise 1

Connect to the Internet and open your internet browser.

Type http://www.who.int/library/ into the address box in the toolbar at the

top of the screen. Click on “GO” or hit the Return key.

The home page of the WHO Library should open.

Now type http://www.who.int into the address box.

Click on “GO” or hit the Return key

WHO website will open.

  • 3. Navigating web pages

The address bar is the toolbar displayed at the top of the screen when you open

Most web pages contain links to further information or other web pages. Often these links are highlighted in a different colour and may be underlined. Links can also be displayed as pictures or graphics. You will notice that as you move the mouse cursor over a link the cursor changes to a hand shape. If you select the link by clicking on it you will be taken to a new web page.

You can navigate backwards and forwards to web pages that you have visited by using the Back and Forward arrows on the toolbar. There may also be navigation buttons or links running across the top and down the left-hand side of the web page you have visited. The house icon on the shortcut toolbar will take you back to the default home page of the browser.

Exercise 2

Connect to the Internet and open your internet browser.

Now type http://www.who.int into the address box.

Click on “GO” or hit the Return key

WHO website will open.

Click on the link to Research tools in the left- hand navigation bar.

Click on one of the hyperlinks on the research tools page.

A new page opens. Use the Back button on the browser toolbar to get back to WHO home page.

  • 4. Searching the Internet

The Internet contains a vast amount of information covering a wide variety of topics.

It hosts library catalogues, articles, news items, reports, multimedia, reference information, company information and personal opinions.

The information is created from many different sources including academic institutions, government agencies, professional organisations, commercial information and individuals.

Some of the information found on the Internet may be organised in directories where the information has been designated to a particular category or file in a structured way. For example this may be in a general directory such as those on http://www.yahoo.com or it may be in a directory which covers a specific subject such as health.

4.1. Search engines A search engine is a useful tool for locating information on the web. The search engine program identifies and visits web pages on the World Wide Web. It gathers information and automatically indexes the site. Any words found on the web pages visited by the search engine are stored in the search engine database. When you search the web for a topic the key words are matched to the information found on the web pages visited by the search engine. Examples of individual search engines can be found at http://www.google.com or http://sp.ask.com .

Meta search engines use their own program and interface to search numerous search engine databases simultaneously. They can give you a broad idea of which search engines hold information on your subject. Examples of meta search engines can be found at http://www.metacrawler.com or http://www.dogpile.com

There is also a part of the web which is not easily seen and indexed by search engines - this is the invisible or deep web. It may consist of databases and information from institutions such as universities and research organisations.

5.

Search techniques

It is possible to search World Wide Web using simple search interfaces or to use more advanced features. Each search engine may have slightly different features so it is always a good idea to check which are appropriate to the one you are using. It is possible to use full Boolean searching using the AND, OR , NOT operators.

The AND operator can be used to combine two concepts, to find items containing all your search terms, or to narrow the search down and make it more specific e.g. malaria AND parasite. The OR operator can be used to keep the search broad and find information containing one or other of your terms e.g. malaria OR parasite. If you only want to find items containing one term and not the other term use NOT to exclude these items e.g. parasite NOT malaria.

  • 5.1. Advanced searching

The following advanced techniques may be used:

Truncation- a symbol such as * or $ is inserted to find all alternative endings of a word e.g. child* finds child, children, childhood etc. This can broaden the search. Proximity searching- it may be possible to use NEXT or NEAR or parentheses e.g. (malaria parasite) to increase the specificity of your search. Case sensitivity- some search engines are case sensitive and will only find items spelled exactly as you type them e.g. if you use uppercase any items in lower case spelling may be ignored.

  • 5.2. Field searching

It is possible to search in specific fields such as looking for a title, date or URL in

some search engines.

  • 6. Evaluating information found on the Internet or World Wide Web

Whilst it is possible to retrieve useful information from searching the Internet it is also

important to remember that anyone can write information and publish web pages. All information should be evaluated using criteria such as:

Accuracy

Authority

Currency

Coverage

Objectivity

A useful link to evaluating health information can be found at

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/evaluatinghealthinformation.html

  • 7. Health Information on the Internet

There are numerous health information resources available on the Internet. There

are health directories such as http://dir.yahoo.com/Health/Medicine/ and searchable databases such as OMNI available at http://omni.ac.uk/ . Many governments make health information databases available as do international organisations such as WHO.

Exercise 3

Connect to the Internet and open your internet browser.

Now type http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hinfo.html

into the address box.

Click on “GO” or hit the Return key

The National Library of Medicine database on the health information

website will open. There is a search box in the right hand corner. You can search the site

Exercise 4

using this.

Connect to the Internet and open your internet browser.

Now type http://highwire.stanford.edu/lists/freeart.dtl into the address box.

Click on “GO” or hit the Return key

The Highwire Press website with free journals will open.

You can access journals from the list.

There are other journals freely available on the Internet. Try typing in http://www.freemedicaljournals.com .This site lists journals sites that make content freely available. Journals are listed by A-Z, speciality and language. If you go to http://www.biomedcentral.com you will access the BioMed Central website. BioMed Central is an open access publisher; published articles are freely available on the Internet as the author pays BioMed to publish them. The articles may be scrutinised to evaluate the information published. PubMed Central is a free archive of articles deposited in the PubMed repository and can be found at http://www.pubmedcentral.com .

The Internet also hosts many publisher sites for which you have to subscribe or pay a fee in order to access published information. These include electronic journals, reference collections, databases and electronic text books.

  • 8. Managing Internet resources

If you find internet sites which are interesting and useful you can use the bookmark feature on the browser tool bar in Netscape or add them to your “favorites” in Internet Explorer. You can click on the tool bar button and you will be given an option to save the website hyperlink. You can give the website a name and this will be retained in a list for when you next visit the site. To revisit the site you then click on the “favorite” or “bookmark” and you will be taken directly to the site.

Exercise 5

Connect to the Internet and open your internet browser.

Now type http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hinfo.html

into the address box.

Click on “GO” or hit the Return key

The National Library of Medicine database on the health information website will open.

Now click on Bookmark or Favorites and you will be prompted to name it

and add it to your list. Do this. Close down the browser, then reopen it.

Click on bookmark or favorites and select the link: The National Library of Medicine should open.

  • 9. Find out more!

You have now reached the end of this workbook and should be ready to progress to

the other modules.