6. Online Reading and Searching Strategies


(15 minutes)


Reading online isn't the same as reading in print.
You should practice some strategies that will improve your online reading comprehension and speed.

In this module we will talk more about your online educational environment. You’re probably going to do more reading than listening when taking an online class. You may do some of your reading in printed form—say, an assigned novel or textbook—but some of it might also be online in the form of a webpage.

After completing this module, you will:

  • Understand some of the differences between reading print versus reading online
  • Learn tactics for using the web to enhance your study efforts
  • Know to use the right strategies to help you with your online searching
  • Cover some internet safety tips

Reading Online vs. Print

So, what do we mean when we say that reading print is different from reading online?

When you read something — let's say, a book — that's been printed by a reputable publishing house, you can assume that the work is authoritative. The author had to be vetted by a publishing house and multiple editors, right?

But when you read something online, it might have been written or posted by anybody. This means that you seriously evaluate the authority of the information you're reading. Pay attention to who was writing what you're reading — can you identify the author? What are his or her credentials?

Using Web databases to Enhance your Study Efforts

By now almost everyone is familiar with searching the web. Google, Bing, and Yahoo give you free access to what companies and people have made available to the public. This is great if you are shopping or browsing movie trailers.

But it is limited if you need to find information for research. Unfortunately, unlimited access to reliable information is restricted, because many publishers want to be paid. There is no free access to their copy righted content.

So, what is a database? Databases allow you to find information not freely available on the web. They search thousands of articles and books. You can find primary sources, charts, and images. Some cover a range of topics and others are more focused on specific subjects such as literature or controversial issues.

  • You want to choose a database based on your research topic. Articles in databases are from magazines, newspapers, trade journals, and encyclopedias.
  • You can also find scholarly and in peer-review articles. They have been chosen because they have been written by credible authors, such as researchers and experts.
  • Just like when you search the web, you will still get a lot of results. However, databases give you more control over your results with powerful search tools. The next section will help with refining and limiting your results.
  • With database search, you get credible content, powerful search tools, less time searching, and better information.
  • As students of the Los Angeles Community College District, you have full access to numerous official articles, eBooks, Newspapers, Reference, Scholarly and Peer-Review, and Streaming Media.

The library at Los Angeles Valley College is your information center for research projects and personal interests.

They will help you identify and locate the most appropriate resources for your research needs. They also have a chat service to reach a reference librarian 24/7. You can access all these services on-campus or off-campus. Please refer to the LAVC Library.

What Strategies to Use to Help with your Online Searching

Learning how to effectively search for data and knowing what to do with the data is a crucial skill to master.

Here are few points to consider:

Search strategies are ways of using search terms to find required information from search tools, such as search engines (Google), the library catalogue and online databases.

The following are some of the most common search strategies that are applicable to various search engines:


Identify the most important keywords for your search topic. The search engines can use those keywords or search terms to start searching for information.

Boolean Logic (AND, OR and NOT)

Use AND, OR, and NOT in Subject searches, which look for matches in the title, author, subject headings, and note fields of each catalogue record. After identifying the most important concepts, it is necessary to indicate how the concepts should be linked with Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT). It is also important to keep in mind that most search engines require that Boolean operators be typed in capital letters.

  • And combines search terms so that each search result contains all of the terms. For example, "travel and Europe" find articles that contain both travel and Europe. Use AND if you want to narrow your search.
  • Or combines search terms so that each search result contains at least one of the terms. For example, "college or university" finds results that contain either college or university. Use OR if you want to expand a search.
  • Not excludes terms so that each search result does not contain any of the terms that follow it. For example, "television not cable" finds results that contain television but not cable. Use NOT if you want to narrow a search by excluding a word.

Truncation and Wildcard (*,?)

Truncation means to make shorter. It also lets you search for a word that could have multiple endings. Truncation(*,?) is used to maximize your search results. Truncation may be used to restrict the search to a word stem.

Example: Searching for politi* will find information on politics, politicians, political, politically. Some search engines also use wildcard searching, where using organi*ation to search for organization ororganisation.

Example:Wom?n (Information on both woman and women will be retrieved). Middle truncation is especially useful to provide for spelling variations.

Parenthesis () and Quotation Mark ““

Parentheses and quotation marks are symbols () or "" to put around words to show what is inside should be kept together. It is a form of phrase searching.

Example: Searching for Adults AND children OR Infants is better when using parentheses. Adults AND (children OR infants).

Example: “medical terminology” will get different results from medical terminology. Using quotation marks will get fewer and better results.

Internet safety tips for online students

No one is policing the web.
This makes it hard to find incredible information, which is important when you do research.

How can you stay safe while browsing or conducting your online classes? These guidelines will help you protect yourself online.

  • Beware of online bullying
    Don’t allow it to happen. If you are being bullied online by other students or are receiving abusive messages, inform your faculty immediately. LACCD has firm policies and procedures regarding this manner.
  • Do not post anything harmful, hurtful, or offensive
    Beware that anything posted online and outside of your class website (Canvas), can be seen by friends, strangers, teachers, and employers. Once you post something online, it's very hard to remove it from public view.
    Canvas provides an integrated system for class discussions, allowing both instructors and students to start and contribute to as many discussion topics as desired. Discussions allow for interactive communication between two or more people; users can participate in a conversation with an entire class or group.
  • Protect your password and login information
    Being savvy on the Internet is part of being an online learner. Do not share your login information to Canvas or LACCD’s Student Information System with anyone.
    You can expose your private information, including your social security, home address, financial records, and your grades to strangers. Also, allowing other people access to your passwords may put your schoolwork in danger. You will be faced with disciplinary action.
  • Watch out for spam and harmful information
    Be careful about opening ads or e-mails from unfamiliar addresses. These can carry viruses, steal personal information, or sign you up for unwanted e-mails and ads. Also, be careful about downloading files or installing software. Minimize borrowing used Flash drives or external hard drives from others.
  • Follow standards of student conduct
    You should not plagiarize or claim someone else's work as your own. It is against the law to distribute or submit someone else’s works as yours. Faculty at LAVC are good at detecting copied work and they may use special software to detect plagiarism. Follow the school's policy for citing works.
  • Look for reliable information
    Do not believe everything you find or receive on the Internet. On the web, anyone can create anything on any subject.


Bravo! You've now successfully completed the online reading and searching strategies module! Remember, most of what you do in an online class will be structured around reading and searching. Be careful while surfing and look out for reliable and Spam free information—don't you feel ahead of the game now?

Help Links

Class Login

Canvas Login Instructions

  1. In a web browser, go to https://mycollege.laccd.edu
  2. LoginID/UserID: Your 9-digit student ID number (example: 881234567 or 900123456)
  3. Password: Same as your SIS password (where you registered for the class). Show me.