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Research Paper Help: World Wide Web

Searching the Web

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.

Search Engines Guide

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.

Search Engines

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

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

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.

Popular meta search engines include DogPile (which searches more of the large search engines than any other meta search engine) and Startpage.

Specialized Information Engines

Finding Specialized Information

  • News
    Besides the more common ways of finding news sources on the Web, which includes using the major news networks and news services, there are news search engines which cover multiple news sites and news wires. These include Google News Search, and Bing News.
  • Pictures
    The Web is more visual in content than ever before. There are several sites devoted to searching for this content. These include picsearch, Flickr, and Google Image Search. Another valuable source includes the U.S. Government Images site. Be aware of copyright restrictions when using any of these sources. You may see the Creative Commons stamp, which informs you about the copyright of that image.  
    Respect the copyright of the resource you’ve selected, and give credit where it’s due!
  • Click here for info about finding & using images from the Web.
  • Videos
    YouTube, Google Video Search and Bing Videos all provide links to videos. Another valuable source is History.com Video Gallery. Be aware of copyright restrictions when using any of these sources. You may see the Creative Commons stamp,
    which informs you about the copyright of that image.  It is your responsibility when using images/video/audio to obey copyright laws.
  • Audio Files
    Several search tools are available to locate sounds, including wav, aiff, au and mp3 file formats. These include FindSounds and 
    History and Politics Out Loud: Famous Speeches. Be aware of copyright restrictions when using sound files. You may see the Creative Commons stamp.  Follow the directions for obeying copyright when using that resource!

Criteria for Evaluating Web Sources

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.