There are numerous web sites that allow people to search for information on the Internet. These sites are popularly referred to "search engines".The most popular English-language Internet search services are:
There are several things to keep in mind when searching for information on the Internet:
- There is no quality control on the Internet.
- Anybody can post a web page, and there is no authority that makes sure that information on the web is accurate and reliable. Before you trust any information you find, you need to ask yourself things like, "Is the author of this web page really knowledgable about this topic?", "Why was this web page created – to share knowledge, to express an opinion, or to sell a product?", and "What biases does the author have?" If you view a number of web sites on the same topic, you can often get a sense of whether a particular statement is something that a lot of people agree with, although that's not always a guarantee of accuracy.
- The best web site for your needs is not always at the top of the results list.
- These sites use complex computer programs to try to figure out what you want, and what web sites most closely match what you're looking for. But sometimes, the computer guesses wrong. You may have to go through several pages of results to find what you need.
- Some of the sites you are shown on the results page are paid for by advertisers.
- When you view a results list, there are often several links listed along the right side of the page, and sometimes above the results list, that are "sponsored". They sort of look like they are part of your search results, but they are actually a form of paid advertising.
- These search sites can only provide the information that is freely available.
- When you use the special research databases the library subscribes to, you can often find information that is simply not available through the free search sites. Many of these "hidden" sources are articles that are written by recognized experts in their fields, and screened by editors who want to protect their reputation for publishing reliable information.
It's important to note that the Internet is merely the means for interconnecting online resources like web servers, e-mail hosts, file repositories, etc. The Library uses the Internet to connect to the high-quality research databases and online resources it subscribes to. When an instructor tells you that you cannot use the Internet as an information source for a class assignment, or limits the number of Internet sources you can use, your instructor is referring to the freely-available information that might not be accurate or reliable. When you visit the web sites of a research database service like EBSCOhost or online resources like Credo Reference or Facts on File, that's not what your instructor is telling you not to do.