Guilford College Writing Manual

This is the official Guilford College Writing Manual. A collaboration between the English Department and the Hege Library.

Finding Appropriate Websites

It's worth reemphasizing at the outset an important principle: the quality of material that you can find on the Internet is extremely variable. In most cases, there is no guarantee that the material is (1) accurate or (2) up-to-date. Keep in mind that the Internet was not designed to be a repository of information but rather a communication mode and a means of sharing computer resources.

What's on the Web (generally):

  • Current issues and popular culture
  • Government-related information
  • Organizations and associations
  • Technology
  • Consumer interests and hobbies
  • Education
  • Materials in the public domain

What's not (generally):

  • Materials pre-1991
  • Scholarly material (growing but not a major force)
  • Copyrighted/licensed material

What you need to search for Websites is a search engine (e.g., Lycos, Infoseek). A problem you face as a researcher is that search engines gather resources indiscriminately, unlike libraries. There is not much overlap between search engines, meaning that you'll want to use a search engine that is truly comprehensive or plan to use multiple search engines.

Currently, Altavista ( www.altavista.com) may be the best comprehensive search engine. It is updated weekly, it is the largest (140M links and growing), and it has a good reputation for finding obscure topics.

A search engine recommended for its selectivity and its orientation to scholarship is Scout Report (scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout). It also uses Library of Congress Subject Headings.

To access materials provided by librarians on how to evaluate Websites, type in "evaluating Websites" as a search subject.