Pew Learning Center & Ellison Library

Painless Library Research

Searching The Web

Internet searching is something that folks can now do with incredible ease. It is also something that can be incredibly frustrating. A basic understanding of different ways of searching the web combined with a few simple search tips will go a long ways in helping you get good results.

Our page of basic search engines and directories, listed in one convenient place, can be found here. It also has a couple of links at the bottom that will take you to some sites with more tips on using the various search engines and directories.

Another potential problem with internet searching has to do with figuring out if what you have found is any good or not. As we all know, anyone can put up a web page (hey, look at me!). Whether or not that person or organization provides accurate or credible information is a different issue. Although sometimes it can be difficult to evaluate web sites, there are a few general criteria that you can use. Check out the following web sites for some good overviews on Evaluating Web Sites:

Evaluating Web Resources (from Widener University)
ICYouSee: T is for Thinking
Thinking Critically About World Wide Web Resources

There is another good source, Internet Detective, that is a little broader in scope and provides a free online tutorial that will help you develop Internet research skills. The tutorial looks at the critical thinking required when using the Internet for research and offers practical advice on evaluating the quality of web sites.

Finally, keep in mind that although the web can be a great resource, it should not be your only resource! Only a tiny fraction of the information on a topic is available on the web--another whole world of information is out there in books, magazine and journal articles, etc. See our sections on Finding Books and Finding Articles to learn how to go about finding these resources.