LIBR 101: Library & Information Strategies UNIT 13: USING THE INTERNET FOR COLLEGE RESEARCH The Internet is a network of computers connected from all over the world. The World Wide Web is the portion of the Internet that allows you to retrieve documents, view images, animation and video, listen to sound files, and view programs downloaded from other computers. Some students believe that the Web has replaced “older” access tools such as periodical databases. This is not the reality. The Web is a terrific tool for many college research topics. It can provide extremely current information on a variety of subjects. However, the sheer size of the Web, currently estimated to contain 8 billion documents, makes searching overwhelming. In addition, unlike online catalogs and periodical databases, the Web is not indexed in any standard way. This means that finding quality information can be difficult and frustrating. In this unit, you will learn some techniques and resources for locating appropriate Web sources for your research. Throughout the workbook we have been using keywords and search strategies to locate the information for our research. When searching the Web, it is even more important that you have a research plan before you start searching. Without a clear strategy, searching on the Web can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Successful searching involves two steps. 1.
You must have a clear understanding of your information need so you can prepare an effective search. To do so, you must identify the main concepts of your topic and include any synonyms, alternate spellings, or variant word forms for your concepts (keywords). 2. You must choose the proper search tool. It’s important to be an effective user of the various Web search tools. Search engines differ from one another and so do subject directories. Become familiar with the advanced search features of more than one search engine or subject directory. Subject Directories A subject directory is usually organized by humans who emphasize quality over quantity. In a subject directory, information is grouped by topics. The directory starts with a few main categories and then branches out into subcategories, topics, and subtopics. You navigate or drill down the directory by clicking on subject headings and subheadings. The Librarians’ Index to the Internet, Internet Public Library and the Yahoo web directory are all examples of subject directories figure 1: Yahoo Web Directory Subject directories can also be very helpful if you have a broad topic and wish to narrow it down. There are a number of advantages to using a subject directory. They contain fewer resources than search engine databases. UNIT 13-1