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HSS 1000: Introduction to Research

Use this guide to help you figure out your research needs. Please don't forget that librarians are here to help you - so if you get stuck, reach out to us!

How does the internet and searching actually work?

This graphic represents how the internet actually works.  Using the metaphor of the ocean, search engines like Google are just skimming the surface and lead you to tidbits like Wikipedia, blogs, social media, news, shopping sites, etc.  Library databases (where you find academic journals and scholarly peer-reviewed articles) are deep below the surface of the web, much deeper than what Google and other search engines can find. That's because library databases live behind something called a pay-wall and contain information that isn't indexed by search engines like Google.  The information available to you is endless, but you need to know where and how to find it.  Each number on this graphic has corresponding text from CNN Money (link underneath the graphic).  It is quoted in part here: 

1. Google & Bing Search Engines (boats on the surface): To produce results, major search engines scour the Web. They follow links to index sites.  That's like dragging a net across the surface of the ocean.

2. Wikipedia, News, Amazon, Linkedin, Blogs, Twitter (fish just underneath the water's surface being caught by Google and Bing): These nets capture less than 1% of Web content. They totally miss the data behemoths.

3. Databases (whale deep in the water): Ask a database a question, and it generates a unique page. These don't get surfaced to the indexable Web.

4. Academic Journals (another whale even deeper in the water): Also hidden are standalone pages and documents behind private networks, like academic journal articles.

5. Tor Network (octopus on bottom of ocean): The most hidden section of the Web is Tor. You can only get inside with special software that makes your location anonymous.

A graphic of the ocean.  Two fishing boats are on the surface named Google and Bing that are using fishing nets to catch fish.  Underneath the boats are fish that are named and represent Wikipedia, News, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon and Blogs.  Deeper under the water are two whales named Databases and Academic Journals. At the bottom of the ocean is an octopus that represents the Deep Week and each arm of the octopus is labeled after something you can get on the Tor Network - political dissidents, illegal porn, drugs, and stolen credit cards.

Image by Jose Pagliery & Tal Yellin/CNN Money from "What is the Deep Web?"

Google search strings to find what you want!

Google is an incredible tool - librarians use it all the time!  But librarians know how to search Google in a way that cuts out a lot of extraneous information and sites, making our searches better and more effecient.  The tips below are ways in which we search for information via Google.  It's good to start your search knowing what type of information you're looking for and use these search strings to help you find it in a more time efficient way! 

Here are three tips that can help your search: 

  • Use quotation marks to keep words together in your search "haunted cemetery" (Google automatically assumes an AND between each search term that you type in without using quotation marks) 
  • Use site to search specific types of site domains site: gov or site: edu
  • Use filetype to find specific formats, filtetype: pdf or filetype: ppt or filetype:xls

OR you can follow the link below to the advanced Google search option that opens up a whole WORLD of online searching: 

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