The material on Web sites goes through no editorial process. There is no one "in charge" of the Web, no editors, no publishers, no censors. Anyone can publish on the Web, and material does not have to be updated or maintained. In order to select high quality material from the Web, evaluate the Web site you plan to use in your research paper. It is also a good idea to print the page(s) you cited because Web material can change daily.
Not all published information is on the Web. While some books and many articles are available through subscription services on the Web, the best information for your research paper may be available only in print format.
Because all search tools are searched differently and return different results, it is a good idea to use at least two different information formats in your research. (Example: Online database and print source)
Remember: no single search tool indexes all of the Web.
Don't just Google, but if you prefer Google to all other search engines, be sure you understand how Google handles searches.
Use the Search Engines Guide to better understand Google. The Guide provides easy access to several Web search tools by type of tool, as well as tips for searching the most popular search engines, evaluating websites, and more. Types of Web tools are listed below.
Which search tool you use depends on what you are looking for. Most research for a paper probably requires that you use a search engine. These are the most powerful of the Web search tools in that they generally index every word on a Web page and attempt to index as much of the Web as possible. The Web sites indexed in search engines have been selected by computer software. The largest and most popular search engines are Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
The Advanced Search interface for search engines generally provides more options for more accurate searches.
Subject directories contain sites selected by humans. The directories are organized in a hierarchical subject arrangement which makes browsing for information convenient. Subject directories contain fewer Web pages than do search engines. The ODP: Open Directory Project is a volunteer-based subject directory.
For college-level research, Voice of the Shuttle is a good choice.
Meta search engines attempt to search several different Web search tools (both search engines and subject directories) with one search. The problem with these search tools is that they cannot take advantage of unique search features within any tool.
Finding Specialized Information
Always consider the source of information critically. Since there is no one "in charge" of the Internet, anyone can publish anything. This is especially important when researching for academic purposes.
Below are handy guidelines to consider as you review your Internet sources.