For most people, finding something on the Internet can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. But, there is no shortage of information on the subject that youíre searching for, on the internet. There are millions of documents on the Internet, published by specialists, scientists, teachers and students, some of which will be useful for your research project. But, the difficulty lies in trying to find them.
So, many people turn to search engines for help. But the problem with search engines is that they tend to return a lot of results, sometimes millions. And needless to say, most of the results are just junk. So, you end up looking at lots of irrelevant pages while trying to find the relevant ones. However, an alternative is to find a web site where the topics have been organized and cataloged, like in a library, so that everything in a particular area is relevant. Such sites are called "directories."
And directories are compiled by teams of editors who choose what they judge to be the best sites and organize them by categories, subcategories, and further subcategories of the subcategories. While they generally provide searching tools to find information in sites they list, you can browse directories as well. To browse directories is to choose categories of interest and see where they lead. And the best place to start is with a general category. Then, choose a subcategory within it, and continue through subcategories of the subcategories till the topic narrows. This is a good way to get quick information on a topic.
The good advantage of a directory is that information will be well organized and all the results will most likely be on the topic that youíre looking for, just like in a library. There are directories that focus on one subject area as well as ones that collect and organize resources in a number of areas.
Features of subject organized directories: While deciding on which directory to use, itís usually useful to take note of the features of subject-organized directories. With subject organized directories, the items are, as in a library, arranged with like items, and lateral browsing may offer fruitful possibilities. And, selectivity can compensate for the lack of comprehensiveness in some cases. For example, while searching for a standard or classic work in a subject area. Also there are greater chances of finding quality resources. And in contrast to automatic index searching, these selective human-compiled lists will not normally throw up multiple hits for the same work.
Specialized Subject Directories: Because, itís impossible to keep up with important sites in all subject areas, there is usually a guide, compiled by a subject specialist, to important resources in their area of expertise. And these specialized guides are more comprehensive and likely, than a general subject directory, to produce relevant information. For example, Voice of the Shuttle (<a href="https://http://vos.ucsb.edu" target="_blank">http://vos.ucsb.edu</a>) provides an excellent starting point for humanities research. And, film buffs should consider starting their search with the Internet Movie Database (<a href="https://http://us.imdb.com" target="_blank">http://us.imdb.com</a>).
And, many of these sites offer reviews and annotations of the subject directories included. Also, most work on the principle of allowing subject experts to maintain the individual subject directories. And while some clearinghouses maintain specialized guides on their own web site, others link to guides located at various remote sites. One of the most useful directories for serious researchers is The Argus Clearinghouse (<a href="https://http://www.clearinghouse.net" target="_blank">http://www.clearinghouse.net</a>). Also, there are About.com (<a href="https://http://about.com" target="_blank">http://about.com</a>), and Virtual Library (<a href="https://http://www.vlib.org" target="_blank">http://www.vlib.org</a>).
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