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Computing and Information Services

Using the Web for Research 


Try it: 

A sample research session






So you want to research a topic and you've heard the web is the place to do it. You sit down at a computer, fire up a web browser, find your way to AltaVista and voila! Five hours later you've had a wonderful journey but you are no closer to your goal. But you've learned one important lesson: 

The web is not a library! 

The web is not made up of selected, reviewed, resources collected by a group of knowledge workers. It's a free for all, a hodge-podge combining well-researched information, entertainment, personal opinion and conversations.  

With a little patience and some web savvy, you can find lots of valuable, useful information. 

Remember that the web is not just web sites. Find and subscribe to listservs that discuss your topic. This will give you an idea of the current issues, and may introduce you to some of the people who are knowledgeable in the field. Also, some online bookstores like Amazon let you search for topics and will provide a list of books on specific topics. Checking for authors' names and then searching the web on those names will often yield good results.  

For more information on doing research on the web, you may want to read Conducting Research on the Internet from the University of Albany library. 


Use global search sites for the maximum number of sites, or web guides for a select number of sites arranged by topic. Sageunix will lead you to resources published in books and journals. 

  • Global searching: AltaVista, Excite, WebCrawler, Starting Point, Net Search Use these sites to search on keyword(s) or phrases. You can also create search queries based on Boolean logic.
  • Web Guides: Yahoo, Magellan, Lycos
  • Sageunix, UVMs electronic libraries' gateway, contains searchable databases of information that is not freely available on the web. Thousands of journal references, book reviews, and other information can be found here. In some cases you will see full articles, in other cases you will receive the citation for a book or article that is available on paper either at our library or through interlibrary loan. [web page] [telnet] (Must have a UVM ID to access some resources) 



  • UVM's listserv archives and newsgroups
  • Diane Kovacs Directory of Scholarly and Professional E-Conferences - the comprehensive guide to scholarly discussion groups, this site lets you search for a discussion group by keyword, subject, or name. It describes each group, and provides contact and subscription information.
  • Rob Kabacoff's collection of "Lists of Lists" - one of the largest, it allows you to search several other collections of lists.



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Last revised: 11 February 1999 
Author: Hope Greenberg 
Computing and Information Technology, http://www.uvm.edu/cit/ 
Copyright 1999 The University of Vermont