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Choosing a Search Tool for Internet Resources

No search tool covers the whole Internet. Pick a couple of favorites from each type and learn the ins & outs for each one.

Which search tool should you use?

General topics (examples: Civil War; flowers; American artists)
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Specific topics (examples: Fort Donelson; tulips; Georgia O'Keeffe)

Directories of Academic-level Resources

Higher quality, fewer resources
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Varied quality, more resources

General Directories

Specialized Search Engines 

Search Engines

Metasearch Engines

  • For a general topic:
    If you have a general topic you wish to find information on use a subject directory.
    Examples of using a subject directory:

    • you want to find out what Web resources are available on birds of the world.

    • you want to know what magazines are available on the Web in a certain subject area.

    • you want a overview of Victorian literature.

  • For a specific topic:
    If have a specific topic you wish to find information on use a robot-driven search engine.
    Examples of using a robot-driven search engine:

    • you wish to find a recipe for mulled wine which contains brandy.

    • you wish to see what information there is on the recommended levels of nitrogen needed in the soil for growing grapes.

    Use more than one search engine for a comprehensive search.

For more information on choosing tools and devising a strategy, see Recommended Search Strategy from UC Berkeley Library.

  • Remember that the World Wide Web is not necessarily the best place to find the information you need. A telephone book may be easier than trying to find a person's email on the Web! Your research topic may contain more relevant information in old fashioned print-based books and journals.
    Don't forget the Library!

Based on a web page created by Gilliam Westera, Curtin University of Technology, http://www.curtin.edu.au/curtin/library/staffpages/gwpersonal/senginestudy/zrecomm.htm


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