World Wide Web
sites can be excellent sources of information that supplement
traditional sources such as print encyclopedias, journals,
edited volumes, etc. And, of course, they are unsurpassed for
the delivery of multimedia information. You won't always have
a list of websites that are relevant to your research, so you
should learn how to use search engines, which function as
roadmaps, allowing you to search for and find web sites on
- There are hundreds of search engines, but you may want to limit yourself
to some of the most commonly-used ones, all of which you will find on
the Tisch website
IMPORTANT: All search engines index differing
amounts of the Web. If you use only one search engine,
you won't find as many websites as if you try several.
It's like fishing: if you only fish a one-yard length
of the shore of a 3-mile lake, you lose out on all the
fish that may be hiding in coves, in shady sections, or
anywhere else outside your narrow fishing spot. Take
some time, look around, be patient.
- While every search engine has its own set of rules, many (Scirus
and Google among others) use the following conventions.
Example: to search for food sources for
wombats, you should input +"food
plus sign indicates that the words or phrases
proceeding it must be found in the
quotation marks indicate that the surrounding
words as a phrase. You could substitute the
quotation marks with a semicolon between
minus sign excludes words that immediate proceed
it, in this case hairy-nosed, which will
exlude all websites that cover the hairy-nosed
wombat. This strategy can be troublesome, as it
can prevent you from seeing sites that may be
asterisk is the truncation symbol, which broadens
your search results to wombat,
wombats, wombatidae, etc.
- Search engines like Scirus and Google
allow you to complete an easy-to-use form in order to construct a highly
sophisticated search. At the homepage, click on "Advanced Search" to
see the form that you can complete. Scirus' form allows for more science-related customization
The value of
a search engine like Yahoo is its directory structure.
Try it yourself by starting at the Yahoo homepage and
then going to sciences, biology, ecology, in that order
and see what you find. Taking advantage of directories
can be much more efficient for finding websites than
constructing a search in Yahoo.