Using the Internet for College Research Baby in Crib
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Search Engines Are For Sissies!
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Just like going to the library. First, know what you are looking for. Knowing what you want will help you figure out how to find it.

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  • Searchable Indexes (sometimes called Engines) (AltaVista, Excite, etc.)
    Databases of millions and millions of pages, gathered by automated "robots," allowing broad and often overwhelming searches

    • Multiple Indexes (sometimes called Meta-Indexes) (Dogpile, MetaCrawler, etc)
      These provide searches across several Indexes

    • Disk Based Search Engines (WebCompas, WebFerret, Copernic99)
      These are programs residing on your hard drive that act as Meta-Indexes.

  • Subject Catalogs (sometimes called Directories) (Yahoo, Librarian's Index, Infomine, etc.)
    Links to resources arranged in subject hierarchies, encouraging users to browse to (and often search for) those they need

  • Annotated Subject Catalogs (Directories) (Magellan, WebCrawler, etc.)
    Concise summaries of linked pages, helping the user know what they'll find when clinking on a link

  • Subject Guides(Argus, WWW Virtual Library, etc.)
    The work of a subject specialist, resulting in the most carefully selected and annotated links

  • Reference Rooms (Internet Public Library, Ask Jeeves , and others)
    Useful for finding general factual information. Fulfills the same function as a traditional library reference room.

  • Specialized Directories (Listz, 555-1212, etc.)
    Cover kinds of data (e.g., email addresses, web server information) requiring special tools for effective searching or accessing information

Which Search Tool is Best for Your Research?

Depends on what you're searching for. But remember, just like any other research project, use more than one tool!
  • For a "scholarly" topic:
    • 1) If you have a general topic you wish to find information on use a subject catalog.
    • 2) If you want to use "pre-selected" links, use an annotated subject catalog.
        But, you're relying on someone else's judgment.
    • 3) If you want to find "quality" sites quickly, use a subject guide.
        This gives you the best sites the quickest, but you may miss out on some very important work.
    • 4) To make sure you haven't missed anything important, use a searchable index.

  • For "general scholarly information":
    • 1)See above
        The search technique is the same. Using catalogs and guides first will give you the "best" (most reliable) information first.
    • 2) Then follow up with a searchable index for those "unmined gems."

  • For a reasonably simple topic where you want lots of quick results:
    • 1) Start with a searchable index.
        Use a single index to develop a workable search strategy, using the advanced features of that engine and Boolean logic.
    • 2) Then use a Meta-index to search multiple indexes
  • For general facts and figures:
    • Use a reference room
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Sites to Help You Search More/Better/Faster
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Web site designed and maintained by Prof. Terry Dugas
Page last updated 10/10/200. © 1997, W. Terry Dugas.