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Searching the Internet

This guide provides recommended search engines, subject directories, and specialized search tools. Also covered in this guide is information on formulating effective searches, the limitations of only relying on Web sources, and how to evaluate sources.

Searching the Internet

This guide provides recommended search engines, subject directories, and specialized search tools. Also covered in this guide is information on formulating effective searches, the limitations of only relying on Web sources, and how to evaluate sources.

Benefits to Using Internet Sources for Research

Listed here are some benefits to using the Internet for your research needs:

  • Timely - very up to date information on current events
  • Size - the Web is enormous and grows every second
  • Convenient - you can search the Internet from any location at any time on any device
  • Easy to use - you can easily search the web using many different search engines
  • Variety - information is provided in many different formats available for different learning styles
  • Free - a great deal of what you need for research can be accessed without  subscription fees (excluding fees for Internet access)
  • Social - you can use the Internet to share information with other users across the globe

Limitations of the Internet

Although the Internet offers a lot of benefits for the college researcher, there are limitations:

  • Size - because there is so much information on the Internet, it can be difficult to wade through the trivial to get to the scholarly content
  • Permanence - content is always in flux, being changed, updated, archived, deleted (* for archives, see the Wayback Machine)
  • Accountability - because it can be difficult to track down the content owner, author, sources of some information, it can be difficult to trust everything on the Internet
  • Missed information - most people do not click past the first page of their search results (in 2011, 75% did not go past page one according to Search Engine Journal)
  • Surface Web Only - not only do most search engines miss "deep web" databases (content not indexed by a search engine because it exists within a structure requiring separate searches) but there is a lot on the web that can only be accessed by a subscription (example: library databases) or pay-per-article fee

The Internet

Unshelved comic strip on Fact Checking

Subject Guide