Analyze your topic.
Analyze what you already know about your topic
Monkeywrenching. Never heard of it! I know it’s controversial, but that’s all. I need some general info to get started…definition, some basic info
Broad information or narrow, specific information? I need both. I need to know broadly what monkeywrenching involves, plus who’s involved, specifically what they’ve done; maybe the ethics of monkeywrenching.
Distinctive words and phrases? Synonyms? Alternative spellings?
I’ll find these as I search and
add as I go along
Local experts I could ask? probably not
Organizations or government agencies or people associated with the term that I could find on the Internet? Maybe Earth First? Tree Huggers Anonymous? A radical environmental group?
Might this info be only/mostly in books? Probably not much. I’ll be using the Internet and periodical databases like Infotrac and Proquest; could also use Lexis-Nexis for newspaper articles.

NOW: Choose a search engine and keywords

Search Engines

  • Are compiled or indexed by software programs called spiders or robots or crawlers. These search the Internet and then compile databases based on Internet sites they’ve visited and re-visited. Everything the spider finds goes into its index (or catalog). Software is then used for us to search the database.
  • Are often huge and seem comprehensive (though they’re not–so far, it’s impossible to index the entire Internet)
  • Are a good place to look for specific, obscure, difficult-to-find information
  • May satisfy a question that begins “I’d like to find everything I can on…”
  • What makes a search engine good?

Examples: Search Engines Recommended: Google and Scirus Also popular:

Why Google?*

  • Size –
  • Currency –
  • Ease of use –
  • Depth of indexing –
  • Innovative page ranking – Factors in 1) importance (how many pages are linked to the page) and 2) relevance of search terms (weighs the location of search terms on the page)
  • Useful Advanced Search form
  • Cached feature
  • Misssssspelled words
  • Dictionary –
  • Speed –
  • Advertising –

Why Scirus ?

  • Scientific-specific search engine for 300 million science-related pages
  • Use Advanced Search to limit subject area to environment, etc.
  • Searches pdf files and journals.
  • Another specific database EPA Search

Other Resources: Librarians’ Indexes

Three of the most useful and large directories with sites selected by librarians are