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VFM 8th Grade Science Fair Project: Free Web Search

Evaluating Your Website Sources: Use THIS FORM!!!

Getting Started on Free Web Searching

Getting Started

Search engines search electronically whereas most search directories use human editors to exclude irrelevant sites and include beneficial ones.  Wikis invite contributors to write and edit articles mostly without authorship.  Understanding the pluses and minuses of each of these search tools will help you to determine when they are appropriate to use for particular high school research assignments.

Explore information in the Search Engines, Search Directories, and Wiki boxes and read the following tips. 

Tips For Using Search Engines:

  • Search engines are best when searching for specific things such as “revolutionary war diaries” as opposed to the more general “war”
  • Use specific academic terms such as “climate change”
  • Use exact phrases such as “research on medical marijuana”
  • Go to Advanced Search tools to refine searches

Tips For Using Search Directories:

  • Read the annotations (summaries of sites written by directory editors) for your top results to see if you are on the right track
  • Browse subject categories
  • Keep search terms broad
  • Check sites for searching tips as all directories are organized differently


AND, OR  & NOT are all words that link concepts together to improve searches when using search engines such as Google or databases such as EbscoHost.  These terms are associated with Irish mathematician George Boole, thus the term Boolean logic or Boolean searching.  

To visualize how these terms work together to organize a search take a look at the Boolean Machine by Rockwell Schrock.

About Searches

Search Directories

Search directories use expert editors to select and organize websites.  Some directories are more tightly organized than others so it’s a good idea to read about how a particular directory is organized before you use it. 

Scholarly Research Directories

Infotopia Search engine accessing only trusted websites selected by teachers and librarians

Internet Public Library/Librarians’ Index   (ipl2) Good spot to research any discipline. Search this directory of thousands of handpicked, screened and annotated web sites. 

Sweet Search Search engine that only searches through websites evaluated by research experts.

Boolean Search

Web Evaluation Humor

Evaluate Your Sources