what is Search Engine? Specialized search engines
Search engines are specialized programs that assist you in locating information on the web and the Internet. To find information, you go to a search service’s website and use its search engine. See Figure 2-19 for a list of commonly used search engines.
To use a search website, you enter a keyword or phrase reflecting the information you want. The search engine compares your entry against its database and returns a list of hits or sites that contain the keywords. Each hit includes a link to the referenced web page (or other resources) along with a brief discussion of the information contained at that location. Many searches result in a large number of hits. For example, if you were to enter the keyword music, you would
get billions of hits. Search engines order the hits according to those sites that most likely contain the information requested and present the list to you in that order, usually in groups of 10.
Since each search service maintains its own database, the hits returned by one search engine will not necessarily be the same hits returned by another search engine. Therefore, when researching a topic, it is best to use more than one search engine.
SPECIALIZED SEARCH ENGINES
Specialized search engines focus on subject-specific websites. Specialized sites can potentially save you time by narrowing your search. For a list of just a few selected specialized search engines, see Figure 2-20. For example, let’s say you
are researching a paper about the environment. You could begin with a general search engine like Google. Or you could go to a search engine that specializes in the environment, such as www.ecoearth.info.
To locate other specialized search engines, use a search service and enter the topic area followed by a specialized search engine. For example, entering sports specialized search engine will return several search engines dedicated specifically to sports information.
Search engines are excellent tools to locate information on the web. Be careful, however, how you use the information you find. Unlike most published material found in newspapers, journals, and textbooks, not all the information you find on the web has been subjected to strict guidelines to ensure accuracy. In fact, anyone can publish content on the web. Many sites, such as Wikipedia.org, allow anyone to post new material, sometimes anonymously and without critical evaluation. To evaluate the accuracy of the information you find on the web, consider the following:
- Authority. Is the author an expert in the subject area? Is the site an official site for the information presented, or is the site an individual’s personal website?
- Accuracy. Has the information been critically reviewed for correctness prior to posting on the web? Does the website provide a method to report inaccurate information to the author?
- Objectivity. Is the information factually reported, or does the author have a bias? Does the author appear to have a personal agenda aimed at convincing or changing the reader’s opinion?
- Currency. Is the information up to date? Does the site specify the date when the site was updated? Are the site’s links operational? If not, the site is most likely not being actively maintained