The Invisible Web

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How to Search the Web

Learn how to find anything on the Internet with quality Web sites. Become a smarter, savvier searcher. FindingDulcinea also offers foreign language versions of this guide in Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

What Is the Internet?

Understanding what the Internet is and how it works can enhance your online ... read more »

Web Site Credibility

Finding information on the Web is like being a police detective: Your information is only as good ... read more »

How Search Engines Work

Search engines are online software programs designed to help users locate relevant Web sites, and ... read more »

Choosing a Search Engine

Aside from Google, there are hundreds of alternative search engines ... read more »

The Invisible Web

Many of the Web’s most extensive sites work like libraries. These database sites keep their information tucked away in the stacks, and if you want something, you have to ask for it. Although search engines may visit these libraries, they rarely make it past the lobby, and they refuse to ask the librarian for help. This causes them (and you) to miss out on the massive amount of information stocked in the back rooms. This hidden material is referred to as part of the "deep" or "invisible" Web.

Insights for the Invisible Web

  • A brief explanation of the invisible Web:
Information in databases can only be accessed by direct searches (searches from within the site itself), which prevents search engines from finding it.

White pages, electronic books, online journals, image files, newspaper archives, dictionary definitions and patents are examples of the file types found in databases. Frequently updated or changing information, like ticket prices and job listings, are also part of the deep Web.

Although its exact size is unknown, the deep Web is believed to be 400–550 times larger than the surface Web (the area accessible to search engines).
  • One trick for finding databases with standard search engines is as simple as adding the term “database” to your search query. Instead of “Buddhism,” try “Buddhism database.” By doing this, you are using the search engine to find a gateway to more information, rather than the information itself.
  • Online databases occasionally require users to pay for access to their content. Schools and libraries subscribe to various database services, so consult your librarian for a list of resources that they may make available to you. Otherwise, consider your research goals to determine whether paying is worthwhile.

Top Sites for the Invisible Web

For more information on the deep Web, including FAQs and links …
To search the deep Web …
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Web Directories

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Social Bookmarking Tools

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Scholarly Sources Online

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How to Cite a Source

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