Down, Deeper and Deeper...

By aegreenaegreen (1261430673|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

This blog is dedicated to discussing the deep web and its search tools, as well as going in-depth about my favorite, Scirus, and how it can be useful for students.

The Deep Web

This is something I never knew existed! From what I can tell, it is basically pages and pages that are "invisible" to most search engines for various reasons. This is a problem because a lot of academic content is part of the deep web, and thus cannot be found through traditional search engines. So, this is why we have academic search engines dedicated to retrieving content from the deep web.

Search Tools

In class, we looked at a few of these academic search tools, including these deep web tools:
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We also learned that a good deep web academic search tool is:

  • Comprehensive
    • Contains lots of different sources about many different things
    • Contains information from a wide time span
    • Contains current information
  • Integrated across and into databases
  • Transparent about what types of information it does and doesn't possess

Keeping this criteria in mind, I will now discuss my favorite of these tools, Scirus.

Scirus

Based on the criteria we learned in class, Scirus is a great deep web academic search tool! Check out my analysis using the above framework, scoring elements on a scale of 1-10:

Analysis

  • Comprehensive (9)
    • Contains lots of different sources about many different things - look at this page to see all the different sources Scirus uses. I'd say that the large amount qualifies it as containing enough sources about enough information. (9)
    • Contains information from a wide time span - in the Advanced Search option, you can choose to return results in any range from before 1900 to after 2010. When I searched from before 1900 to 1900 for author:smith, it returned tons of results, and a quick scan showed that the earliest result was from 1563. I also performed the same search using from 1900 to 2010 and returned 367,460 results. So, I think it's safe to say this engine covers a wide time span. (9)
    • Contains current information - With the same search, setting the date to include only 2009, 20,269 results are returned. And since I'm searching scientific documents, that seems pretty current to me! (9)
  • Integrated across and into databases - still a little fuzzy on what this means, but I'd imagine that Scirus is pretty good at this, too. (8)
  • Transparent about what types of information it does and doesn't possess - you can look here to read in detail on this subject, but Scirus is very clear on what it does and doesn't index…very good to know. (9)

Overall Score: 8.66/10 - A very good deep web academic search tool indeed!

Now I'm going to talk about some other stuff I discovered while using this tool…

Most Useful Features…

  1. When you search you can filter your results by source type, meaning Journal Sources, Preferred Web, or Other Web. Check out the full list at Advanced Search.
  2. You can also filter results by document type, meaning HTML, PDF, or Word
  3. You can check the box next to results and choose to email, save, or export them
  4. You can click the link under a result to show similar results
  5. You can sort results by relevance or date
  6. Using advanced search, you can:
    • Search the complete document or any part of it, including Title, Author, Keyword, ISSN and URL
    • Use specific search syntax, like [author:] or [car*]. See the full list here.
    • Filter by date subject and information type
  7. Scirus provides an About page loaded with useful information about the tool

Final Thoughts

I wish I had known about the deep web and its academic search tools for a lot of the research I did during my first three years at college. It would have been so useful! It seems almost impossible to find academic sources with a general search engine, but little did I know that some engines return only those. And Scirus is not at all what I envisioned an academic tool to be. It is so easy to use and has so many features that let you refine your search as perfectly as possible. I'm going to be spending a lot more time on sites like these from now on!

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