A List of Education Search Engines

The Internet is a powerful tool for students and researchers and offers easy access to a wealth of information. Two common challenges for researchers are sifting through the numerous results of a web search and evaluating the search results’ content quality. Researchers can use two tools that organize the immense amount of material online: web directories (or “subject directories”) and search engines. Web directories specialize in material related to certain fields, such as science or the humanities. Some web directories organize content hierarchically, by category and subcategory, and others alphabetically. Web directories are suitable for beginning to research a topic because they allow users to browse categories to get an overview of a topic and develop a list of keywords to use with an appropriate search engine. Search engines use keywords to retrieve content stored in the search engine’s database. The search engine refreshes its content periodically to include new and updated sites. Search engines are useful when used with well-defined search parameters.

All search engines do not search the same material. Some search engines are more useful to students and researchers because they search pre-screened material, including scholarly databases and government documents. Using academic quality search engines is important because not all information published on the Internet is authoritative and accurate. Collaborative websites, such as Wikipedia, can be edited by anyone and often are not reviewed by experts. Websites may be published online without an external review for reliability. Many sites do not include information on their authors, which makes it difficult to assess the writer’s qualifications in the field. Some links returned by search engines lead to spam sites that contain off-topic or unhelpful information or advertising links.

Academic and educational search engines and web directories provide research-quality content from websites that are screened by educators and experts in a particular field. These search tools also search the “invisible web”, which is material not available through general search engines. The invisible web contains information included in search able databases and archives. By using these search engines and web directories, students and teachers can obtain research quality information without the difficult task of weeding out non-authoritative and spam sites. Users can be sure that these search engines will not return the spam sites, junk sites, or sites of dubious quality and research value that broader search engines may return.

  • Google Scholar: For broad searches of scholarly material. Returns journal article and book citations to point researchers to useful material. Users can set Google Scholar’s library preferences to include material from their institution.
  • Microsoft Academic Search: Allows users to search scholarly papers, journals, and conference proceedings. Also allows searches by author. Includes links to download full-text articles when available.
  • Internet Public Library: Resources reviewed by professional librarians. Search-able and organized by subject.
  • Infomine: Search university-level scholarly information including biological and medical sciences, business and economics, the physical sciences and engineering, government information, electronic journals, and the social sciences and humanities.
  • Intute: Search material evaluated by specialists in the subject.
  • Scirus: Research the content of scientific journals, patent information, and scientist’s websites.
  • Scitopia: Search online libraries of leading science societies, scientific journals, and conference proceedings.
  • GPO Access: Search United States government documents.
  • RefSeek: Subject directory and search engine, includes results from reference material. Allows users to search the web or documents.
  • Academic Index: Search within subject areas. Searches databases of research-quality material reviewed by educators and librarians.
  • The Infography: Search material reviewed by professors and librarians. Provides recommendations by specialists for further reading in a subject.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals: Search peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly journals.
  • Virtual Library: This search engine’s database is reviewed by subject experts.

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