Searching Tools [Part 3]
The Best Searching Tools

In Detail

From The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 18, 2000 tech.k12 / Joyce Kasman Valenza

"How to search the Internet faster

Subject-specific gateways, directories, guides or portals speed the process. And there are guides to these guides.
You're looking for information about a disease, or a review of an old film, or a recipe for chocolate chip cheesecake. You visit your favourite search engine, right?
Wrong. Finding subject specific information in a general search engine like AltaVista or Excite can feel like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Why not use a magnet?
Instead of sifting through enormous result lists generated by general purpose search engines, strategic searchers get to the stuff they need more directly using subject-specific search tools.

Subject gateways, directories, guides, or portals are powerful research tools.
The best of the breed are highly selective, offering short lists of high quality resources and links. They are generally collaborative efforts maintained by people devoted to organizing and selecting content and links in an area in which they hold expertise. Often these subject tools offer access to the invisible web—databases and unindexed sections of large web pages overlooked by general purpose search tools.

The problem is that the average student or teacher is unaware of these remarkable gateways.

How do you find these wonderful directories?
How do you find the best search tools for your specific search needs? Naturally, there are guides to the guides, directories of specialized subject directories. Among my favorites are SearchIQ, Invisible Web,, CompletePlanet

SearchIQ's Subject Directory of Search Engines.

{Note - a great list of special searching tools can be found at - Wayne } opened my eyes to search tools I never knew existed. I decided to explore the art area and discovered Artchive, where Mark Harden offers an amazing directory of links to artists and movements. In no time I was viewing image lists of my favorite artist's works. In the same section I discovered ADAM: The Gateway to Art, Design, Architecture and Media Information on the Internet. My search on Frank Lloyd Wright led me to a very manageable list of 14 annotated and ranked sites.

Invisible Web, at is a "directory of over 10,000 databases, archives, and search engines that contain information that traditional search engines have been unable to access
. " Invisible Web led me to some great automobile purchasing gateways as well as new sites to give me the door-to-door directions I always need.

I recently discovered CompletePlanet which offers access to an impressive collection of valuable web search tools and databases.
I rely on to begin any exploration of a new subject area. expert guide who completes a “rigorous The network includes over 700 highly specialized areas, each overseen by an certification process.” Search results usually include an original essay by the guide offering context, as well as picks for the best directories and links. An added bonus is that the site's network links the work of guides in related areas.
Serious researchers will want to begin their searches at the more scholarly gateway guides. The Argus Clearinghouse / provides access to topical guides that meet an extremely selective collection development policy. Resources are ranked according to a five-check system. BUBL Link 5:15 , a government sponsored United Kingdom effort, selects resources in all academic disciplines, offering descriptions for at least five, but no more than15 resources. Librarians might enjoy rearranging the links to appear in Dewey order. Just take a peek under Health Studies to get a feel for the enormous scope of this service.
: Scholarly Internet Resource Collections / at the University of California at Riverside, offers a similar service with the added feature of new sites highlighted in each subject area.

Though you can find most of the subject-specific guides on your own using the search tools I just described, I can't helping noting a few guides my students and I use on a regular basis.
The Internet Movie Database is searchable by title, actor, crew member, character, year and more. My students use this one heavily for projects on the decades and appreciate the archive of external review links from an impressive variety of sources. Similarly the Ultimate Band List  offers quick access to content and links on artists from any genre.

Some projects absolutely require the use of gateways. I love
Diana's Gourmet Links  for global studies projects requiring students to learn about and cook foreign cuisine. I have found gateways especially helpful in health research. Typing the word “stroke” into a general search engine leads to truly disappointing results, Many of the sites students turn up will be of questionable authority. If the begin their searches in such health-specific gateway sites as NOAH  or Healthfinder, they will focus their search and guarantee themselves authoritative information and links. The same holds true for those travel projects often assigned by social studies and world language teachers. Typing the word “Paris” into most search engines would be a frustrating experience. Learning that tools like City.Net, Fodors, the Rough Guides and Lonely Planet are available is an important lesson in choosing the best tool for the job.

So save yourself some time by spending some time exploring and bookmarking gateways in the subject areas you and your students are likely to use.

Guides to Guides For a more extensive list:

Academic Information

Argus Clearinghouse /

Best Information on the Net 

BUBl LINK/ 5:15 /


Infomine: Scholarly Internet Resource Collections /

Invisible Web /

Lycos Searchable Databases

Scout Report

Search IQ

WWW Virtual Library

Spire Project  

Web Search ( Index "

A Selective List of Gateways For Educators

Awesome Library: K-12 Education Directory /

Blue Web'n: Learning Sites Library /

Education World /

Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (K-12 math and science resources)

Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM)

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators

Multnomah Homework Center /

World Lecture Hall (college course syllabi)

For a selective list of subject-specific gateways visit

For additional gateway links, check my Web site at

© 2000 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.

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Also, for my class work, don't forget my own pages at r-7 school info

Wayne 2002
links checked July 2005


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