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Find Internet Sources

The Internet is full of it -- reliable and unreliable information on every topic. Below are some guidelines for choosing and using Internet resources. Remember that how good the web page looks is not an indication of the reliability of their information. The web can contain many types of information including personal sites, blogs, commercial information, and even scholarly information. You need to investigate the web site hosting the page in order to determine if it is reliable for use in college-level research.

As with any other format, it is essential to evaluate the information.

  • If in doubt, double check the information with a known resource.
  • Ask an academic instructor or librarian for assistance with searching and evaluation.

Questions to help you to decide which Internet search engine to use:

  • Choose The Most Appropriate Type of Search Engine for Your Query

    • Subject Directories (e.g.INFOMINE, Librarian’s Index to the InternetAvailable to all free of charge) Sites are arranged in categories from broad to narrow. Think about the arrangement of the yellow pages. Specially trained people decide which categories to assign to each site. They can't make up new categories until there is really a need for it. When you search you are searching the categories.
    • Search Engines (e.g.Google, Ask,com, BingAvailable to all free of charge) When you search, the search engine looks at each specific word on the page. No one decided what the page is about. Your search is based literally on which words are written on the page. Google is one of largest and arguably the most commonly used search engines, and it has several sections in it that can be useful for research such as:

      • Google Scholar, which searches mostly scholarly literature on the Internet, including some peer-reviewed journal articles, technical reports, and other research material. If connect to Google Scholar through the OSU Library’s list of databases, you can access full text journal articles to which OSU has a subscription.
      • Google US Government Search, which searches web pages from the US government (.gov) sites. Government information is often very authoritative and good for use in research.

  • Evaluation Features of Search Engines

    • Size
    • Currency
    • Individual Author Identity & Authority
    • Institution Authority
    • Relevancy
    • How is the database constructed or compiled?
    • What information in the database is indexed?
    • What information in the database is searched?
  • Searching Features of Search Engines

    • Is the search case-sensitive?
    • What is the default Boolean operator (and, or, not) for your search terms?
    • Can you (and how do you) search for phrases?
    • Can you (and how do you) use Boolean Logic?
    • Can you (and how do you) search for plurals?
    • Can you (and how do you) truncate, stem, or wildcard?
    • Can you (and how do you) specify search fields?
    • How are results determined?
    • How are results displayed?
    • If results are 'ranked' -- what are the criteria?

  • Basic Searching Hints

    • Looking for general information and broad topics? Start with a subject directory type search engine.
    • Use long queries with as many unique terms as possible. Be specific.
    • Looking for specific information? Avoid general terms (movies, music, travel) and stop words (a, an, the, of, if).
    • Think about the evaluation and search features. Use them!
    • Use the "help" features in the search engines! Sometimes these are called "about," "FAQ" (Frequently Asked Questions), or "searching."

  • Check Out These Sites For More Information

    • Search Engine Showdown: The Users' Guide to Web Searching Available to all free of charge
      Written by a reference librarian at the Montana State University, this essential site showcases ultra-practical reviews, search features, statistics, & comparisons.
    • Internet Guides Available to all free of charge
      Great resource from the University at Albany Libraries or Internet resources and search engines that covers search logic, search options, search features, database quality/size, type.
    • Search Engine Watch Available to all free of charge
      Formerly called "A Task Force's Guide To Search Engines," this site remains geared to the more technologically savvy user. Includes search engine registration and submission tips (using meta tags, improving placement, how to submit URLs), searching strategies, how major search engines work from a searcher's perspective, how people search, etc.
Accessibility Legend
Available to all free of charge
Resource available via the Internet to everyone free of charge.
Internet resource licensed by OSU
Resource available via the Internet to the Oklahoma State University community (faculty, staff, and students), Stillwater campus. These resources may be available to other users depending upon permissions from their home institution.
CD-ROM available in OSU libraries
Resource available via CD-ROM at public workstations in the Oklahoma State University Library. These resources may be available to other users depending upon resources at their home institution.
Print resources available at OSU
Resource available in print at the Oklahoma State University Library. All call numbers refer to this library. These resources may be available to users at other locations.

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Last Updated: 1 Sept 2009