Use a specialized search engine!
A specialized search engine is one that searches specific parts of the web and/or for content that is contained in a database, which is not easily accessible by regular search engines. This part of the web is sometimes called the "deep web" or "invisible web".
Below are a few examples of search engines that have a disciplinary focus. (Keep in mind, there are numerous other search engines specific to a discipline or field of study that may be useful for your research. Browse the Subject Research Guides (see the box below) for more suggestions.
Researchers, professors, and librarians put a lot of thought and energy into creating guides designed to help students and scholars find the best resources on a subject. These guides are often categorized and annotated.
Start with a guide you know:
Organizations often provide links that point you to resources and people who are interested in similar topics.
There are several ways to identify an organization affiliated with your discipline or area of research. The website for your department may direct you to the major associations for your field:
Another way is to do an internet search for keywords describing your field or topic, the terms "association OR organization", and limit this to the .edu or .org domain.
Ex) Google Search: historians association site:.org yields:
Web directories pull together sites on similar topics and categorize them. The level of evaluation and intervention can vary.
Take advantage of advanced search options!
Many search engines have some form of an advanced search that gives you more control over your search. Look for "Advanced Search" or "Options" in your favorite search engines.
Remember to evaluate and document what you find online carefully!
It is always important to think critically about the information that you find, regardless of format. When thinking about the appropriateness of a web content for your research, it is often useful to ask yourself several questions about the site's authority and relevance.
Ask yourself questions about the authority of the site: Who is responsible for this site? What are their credentials for writing on this topic?
It is equally crucial to think about how what you find online fits into what you already know or have found on a topic. Could the information you are interested in be covered better elsewhere?
Many web guides exist that provide further explanation of concepts. Below are a few:
Take lots of good notes!
It is equally important to document the sites you browse carefully. Part of being an effective and responsible researcher is being able to retrace your steps. (And it will also save you lots of time!)
There are also an increasing number of tools, freely available, that can help you to manage your online research. For more information, see the "Keeping Track of Your Citations" tab on Carleton's "Citing Sources" guide: