Finding Information on the Internet: Search Engines, Directories & Meta-Sites
Search Engines — What’s Your Flavor? By Diana Botluk
Diana Botluk is a reference librarian at the Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and is the author of the 1996 edition of The Legal List: Research on the Internet. She is a regular columnist for the Internet Law Researcher, where she writes about finding information on the world wide web. She also teaches basic, advanced and online legal research at the University of Maryland, and co-chairs the Internet Focus Group for the Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C.. You can e-mail Diana at [email protected].
(Posted April 21, 1997; Archived May 22, 1997)
H ow are search engines like ice cream? Ice cream can be a rich symphony of rocky road, an elegant simplicity of mint chocolate chip, or the powerful clarity of plain vanilla. Like ice cream, search engines come in a variety of flavors, and what is right for one searcher may be rejected by another. A rocky road search engine might enable sophisticated searching by providing a complex search language slightly beyond the capabilities of the novice researcher. On the other hand, a vanilla search engine might be simple and straightforward, yet not as flexible for the experienced researcher. Research characteristics from six of the most common Internet search engines are compared in the chart below. The chart points out the features common to the search engines, as well as features unique to each. Ultimately, the flavor you choose will depend on your research style. But the best advice is to get to know each search engine’s strengths and weaknesses, and use each to its full advantage.