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Section: Search Tools

Best Uses for Search Tools

General Search Engines

Particularly effective when searching for:

  • a specific person, place, or thing.  For example: General Electric or Roy Thomson Hall.
  • the "needle in the haystack"

Not recommended if you are seeking:

  • a general overview of a research topic
  • clarification of a topic or term

Subject Directories

Particularly effective when searching for:

  • an overview of a topic
  • an introduction to a topic

Effective place to start looking for information. Subject Directories will often point you to portals or gateways that link to high-quality information.

Invisible Web Search Engines

Effective for tracking down:

  • facts
  • data
  • statistics
  • maps

The Libraries' subscription-based indexes and databases are part of the invisible Web; these provide the best access to

  • scholarly journal articles
  • newspaper and magazine articles
  • statistical data

Meta-Search Engines

Not recommended for initial searching. Not sophisticated in how they send searches to general search engines and often rely upon poorer general search engines that index a very small portion of the WWW.


Question: You are beginning to do some research for an essay and want to focus on some issue pertaining to aboriginal history in Canada.  At this point, you don't have a very clear idea of good issues or themes to examine.

What type of search tool would likely retrieve some quality introductory information on this topic?


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