Information Literacy

Choose the Best Search Engine for your Project

  Need additional search ideas? Try NoodleQuest (interactive version)
I need to define my topic...

I need to understand thescope of my topic
Intute Investigate annotated academic sites (advanced search)
INFOMINE Search annotated academic sites and subject databases (advanced search)
AcademicInfo Subject Guides Browse subject guides with descriptions of relevant sites

I need to see related topics
Google Uncover buried sites using "related searches"
Bing Search for your topic, then drill down "related searches"

I need to refine and narrow my topic
SurfWax Search for your topic, then click "Focus" (top) to show similar, broader, and narrower topics
iSeek Education Ask a question or search a topic in this database of "trusted resources" - use "targets" to refine search
Wikipedia Drill down “Contents” to explore subtopics

I need to choose acontroversial issue
Hot Topics (Google Custom Search) Begin your search on selective hot topic sites
IDEA Portal Browse or search a debate topic database with pro/con arguments
Glean Comparison Search Build your pro/con search using comparative terms (K-12)

I need background on possible topics
SweetSearch A selective search of Web information for students
Wikipedia Search this wiki (quality content is starred), then follow article links to more information
Columbia Encyclopedia Search basic factual information in this encyclopedia (c 2000)
I need to find quality results...

I need authoritative sites chosen by an expert researcher
INFOMINE Librarian-selected scholarly sites
LibGuides Librarian-created topic pathfinders
Infotopia Customized safe-search of educator-selected sites

I need personal help from experts
Ask an ipl2 Librarian Get answers from volunteers and grad students in a week (K-12)
AllExperts Ask your question of a self-identified volunteer subject-expert
Ask a Librarian Library research questions answered in five days (no homework questions)

I need sites ranked or tagged as valuable or relevant
Google High PageRank means popular, relevant sites link to the page
Technorati Browse or search user-identified subjects ("tags") for blog advice or opinions High ExpertRank indicates subject-specific popularity

I need primary sources
American Memory Locate documents, sound recordings, images, maps, and other American primary sources
Ready, 'Net, Go! Browse worldwide archival index
Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web Search for online exhibitions selected by Smithsonian librarians

I need peer-reviewed journal articles
OpenJ-Gate Search narrow term in open-access global journal literature (advanced search)
Directory of Open Access Journals Search by narrow term to find open access journal articles or browse a subject directory
I need to do research in a specific discipline...

I need official government information Search official U.S. government information and services
Foreign Governments (Intl. Documents Coll., Northwestern U) Alphabetical links to the official websites of national governments
Directgov Search or browse official UK information and services

I need in-depth informationabout a country or unrepresented territory
CIA World Factbook Search on keyword or select country or location name
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) Browse Web sites from indigenous peoples, occupied nations, minorities and independent states or territories

I need science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) research or sources
Scirus Science-specific Web portals, reports, peer-reviewed articles, patents, preprints and journals
National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Search by grade level, subject (STEM) and resource format
Intute Use advanced search to limit search by science, technology, or mathematics subject areas

I need reputable healthinformation
MedlinePlus Search diseases, conditions and health topics
Mayo Clinic Browse by disease or search conditions, symptoms, tests and health topics
KidsHealth Health information directed to kids, teens or parents

I need legal documents, agencies or news
FindLaw Search cases and codes (U.S. federal and state), news and commentary
Legal Information Institute (Cornell U Law) Search or browse wiki of worldwide legal information
State Legislative Websites Directory Search database of U.S. state legislatures, DC and territories for home page, bills, press rooms, statutes, etc.

I need creative and performing arts sources
Intute Use advanced search to limit search to arts and humanities subject areas
Art History Resources on the Web Global art history resources chosen by a scholar
JURN Google custom search of 3,500+ ejournals in the arts and humanities
The timeliness of information that I need is...

within the last hour
Google Real-Time Choose "past hour" from the left column for the most recent news
10x10 Explore 100 words and pictures that "matter most" globally in the last hour

Google News View top news stories and refine by category or topic
NewsNow Search breaking global news headlines or newsfeeds (UK service)
Newseum Browse today's front page treatment of news from nearly 100 countries

Google Search and limit by time period, or choose "timeline" (from "more search tools" on left) to see a topic's evolution
Yahoo News Search recent news and filter by time period ("past week")

recent (with analysis)
BBC Special Reports In-depth topic coverage including news features, analysis, photos, audio and video
Times Topics Collected news, reference and archival information, photos, graphics, audio and video files about topics
PolitiFact Search news keyword or browse fact checking of statements made by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups

long-term investigative reports
ProPublica News investigations of significant government, business, and institutional wrongdoing
Center for Public Integrity Original reporting of public issues designed to make "institutional power more transparent and accountable"
Center for Investigative Reporting Critical investigations of injustice or abuse of power with actionable information to assist citizens

a particular time period (decade, century, era)
HistoryWorld Enter year event to retrieve timeline, then click on icons for information or images
INFOMINE Search by a term like "Golden Age" or "18th century"
Wikipedia: List of Timelines Browse Wikipedia’s list of timelines (civilizations, people, events, etc.)

American Memory Search America's primary source documents and images, browse by topic, time period, medium or place
ipl2 Drill down into the history section or search fewer, broader terms (e.g., "terrorists" not "Righteous Path")
Digital History High-quality historical resources, primary sources, multimedia, subject guides

Ancient History Sourcebook Search online ancient-history texts, images, audio, or browse by region, period (e.g., Persia, Late Antiquity)
ipl2 Drill down into ancient history section or search fewer, broader terms (e.g., "Greece" not "Spartan women")
I need facts...

a person Search 25,000+ biographies by name, keyword and profession
Who2 Search for famous people with "four good links" to more information
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online Search biographies from Canada's history (16th-20th century)

a place
CIA World Factbook Select country for basic profile and transnational issues
Country Studies Cross-search or view a country (last update 1998) - historical, social, economic, political and national security data
Stately Knowledge Basic U.S. state facts, links to state government site and encyclopedia (IPL KidSpace)

a company
NYPL: Searching for Company Information Find company information based on your need

general reference answers Find a fact, biography, statistic or conversion, or reference answer
Columbia Encyclopedia Find basic information
Yahoo Learn shortcut words to get quick answers

news background (facts, people, and documents)
I need opinions and perspectives...

I want opinions on current issues
HeadlineSpot Opinion/Editorials Browse opinion/editorial in U.S. and some international newspapers
PollingReport Browse results of U.S. public opinion surveys
Issues & Press (U.S. Dept. of State) Investigate U.S. position on international issues

I need news from other countries' perspectives
World Press Review Get nonpartisan summaries of views outside U.S.
Newspaperindex Browse selected world newspapers
ABYZ News Links Browse international broadcast and Internet news, newspapers, magazines, and press agencies

I want multiple perspectives on hot social and political topics
Social Issues Links to pro/con on current social issues
Public Agenda Analysis of public attitudes on social issues with overview, pro/con, organization links
UN News Centre: News Focus Browse for UN-related issues by region, country or topic

I want to compare news treatment
Newseum Compare news reporting on U.S. front pages
PressDisplay Compare news reporting from 55 countries
I need a specific type of media...

Google Maps Search and view satellite and street-level maps
MapMachine Search, browse and print country, physical and political maps
American FactFinder Maps See trends/patterns when you superimpose chosen geographical features and census data on U.S. maps

photographs and visual images
Google Image Search Use advanced search to limit by size, coloration, file type
Yahoo Image Search Use advanced search to limit by size and coloration
Flickr Search users' photos by their subjects ("tags"), then choose a subtopic ("tag cluster)

fine art
Artcyclopedia Search (e.g., artist, medium, movement, subject) or browse for digitized art and online exhibits, see actual size
Intute: Arts and Humanities Search or browse selected, evaluated resources

Yahoo Video Search Search by keyword or phrase, use advanced search to limit by file format, size, duration and domain
YouTube Search for, watch or buy an ever-growing collection of TV shows, movies, music videos, documentaries, and personal productions
Internet Archive: Moving Image Archive Search public domain films, newsreels, ads, documentaries, television series and other “cultural artifacts”

PublicRadioFan Find public radio programs and podcasts worldwide

Google To find song lyrics, search (in quotes) title or performer (plus) "song lyrics," to find information about the song's history search title (in quotes) and "origin"

FindSounds Get sound effects and music samples: select a keyword or search a term limited by file format, quality and size

American Rhetoric Search site or browse categories of full-text, audio and video of American public speeches, lectures, debates, interviews, events
History and Politics Out Loud Search or browse full-text public-domain audio with transcripts of 20th century political and historical events, personalities, and protest songs
American Memory Find sound recordings of American primary source speeches

quotations Quotations Search classic passages, phrases and proverbs (1901 edn.)
Quotations Page Search word, phrase, author within or across quotation collections
Quoteland Search by keyword or browse topics, authors

statistical data
Statistical Information (NoodleTools) Links to statistical databases and advice on locating and understanding data

dictionary or thesaurus (for definitions, etymology, pronunciation, synonyms)
Yahoo Reference Definitions, etymology, synonyms (English and Spanish) and audio-pronunciation
Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus Definitions, etymology, synonyms and audio-pronunciation
WordCentral Definitions with pictures (student dictionary)

Columbia Encyclopedia Factual information (updated 6/05)
Wikipedia Volunteer-created and collaboratively edited: valuable for current topics (e.g., people in the news), technology (e.g., podcasting) -- information quality uneven

almanac data
Country at a Glance (U.N.) Basic country profile, use InfoNation to compare data from 6 countries
Information Please Almanac Statistical and factual data -- beware popup minefield

books and other printed works
WorldCat Search for books and reviews, options to refine results, check your local library's holdings
Google Scholar Search (free and fee) scholarly works, locate related information using "cited by" links, use advanced search to limit (author, date, phrase, in title, subject area)
A9 OpenSearch Search for books by keyword, then "Search Inside!" to see keyword-in-context
I have special search requirements...

run my search periodicallyand be notified of new results
Giga Alert Run Google search of 3 interests and get e-mail or RSS notification of new results
Google Alerts Run periodic Google searches and get e-mail (no RSS) notification of new results

specify a country where my search results are located
Google Limit by domain (advanced search) or by country (Language Tools)

use a search engineoutside the U.S.
Search Engine Colossus Browse search engines and directories from countries and territories

find sites organized by theDewey Decimal System orLibrary of Congress Classification
Virtual LRC Select Dewey Decimal number before searching
INFOMINE Drill down into Library of Congress Classification directory

locate resources by file type
Google Limit search by file type (.pdf, .ps, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .rtf)
Yahoo Limit search by file type (.html, .pdf, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .xml, .txt)
I am...

a kid
KidsClick! Find kid-friendly sites with educational content (grades K-7) selected by librarians
Ask Kids Search by keyword, then select the best-match question for answers and links
Yahoo Kids Select from kid-safe sites (grades 2- 7) organized by topic

pretty new to the Internet
Google Largest general purpose search engine
Yahoo Large, general purpose search engine
ipl2 Easy-to-navigate, well-annotated directory of librarian-selected Web sites

an Internet wizard
Exalead Configure highly-specific searches including proximity ("folk tales NEAR sun"), but smaller index than Google or Yahoo
INFOMINE Configure a narrow search of a large, comprehensive academic virtual library (Web sites, databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, directories of researchers)