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University Library

Intelligent web searching

The internet is a rich resource for researchers but its vast size means that even the most proficient user can struggle to find relevant information. This page can help you find quality information on the web by highlighting a range of search engines, which enable you to make the most of advanced internet searching options, and linking to collections of evaluated research content. A number of tools are also available to you to help you manage information-overload and organise what you have found.

Search engines

When looking for research information on the web it is important to go beyond your usual search engine to ensure that you are finding all relevant information. There are thousands of search engines for you to choose from and each one indexes different web sites and ranks them in a different order. You only have to put a very basic search into Google, Bing or Yahoo! to see the different results you can get. However, this doesn't mean that you have to spend more time on your searches as a number of tools exist to help you search across multiple engines at any one time. Alternatively you may have a particular type of search and a specific search engine will be all you need.

When conducting research on the web, think about the different types of search engine available to you:

  • keyword
  • directory
  • category
  • visual display
  • meta-search

and think about whether an international search engine could better serve your purposes.

The page below links to a series of tabs which group search engines and enable you to test them in a preview window or link to a full-size version of the site for more in depth examination.

For a text-only list of links to the resources on this page use the following guide:


Academic resources

You'll find many high-quality, free resources on the internet. Some may be full-text while other offer you a taster to help you decide if you want to use the Document Delivery Service to order a book or journal article.

Google Scholar is a general search engine which covers books, journal articles, conference papaers and theses. If you know the format of the material you are looking for, a specialised search engine may be better: Gutenberg Project for books, OAIster for journal articles.

Google Scholar also links to subscription-only content.  When you are on-campus at Durham or Stockton or at college, a  'Durham ConneXions' link is automatically shown next to the search result if the Library has the article available.  Following this will lead you to the full-text of the article via the Library catalogue. Off-campus, you will need to tell Google Scholar to include links to items available from the Library. See our page about configuring Google Scholar to set up this option on your computer.

In addition there are a number of portals which provide you with lists of evaluated web pages considered to be of academic quality. A key one for higher education is Intute, but many subject areas have their own gateways to resources.

Use the link below to preview some of these pages. Use the tabs along the top of the screen to navigate to Academic Resources and Full-text content.

Annotating and organising the web

There is no point finding useful research material on the web if you cannot find it again. A number of tools exist to help you bookmark key sites and annotate them so that when you return to them you can remember what it was that was so useful about them in the first place.

Use the link below to see some of these sites in preview mode and then link out to a full-size version. Use the tabs along the top of the screen to naviagate to Annotating the web and Organising the web.

Related training for doctoral students

If you are interested in finding out more about how to search the web why not attend the Google Scholar and the academic web course? More information is available on the university training course booking system.