Conducting Electronic Research

Reference Site Search

Reference Web site search engines are the online versions of the encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases and almanacs found in any library reference room. Some provide limited access for free and full access for a subscription fee. Others are completely free to the public.

Using one of these early in your research will help introduce you to the topic you've been assigned or provide you with a starting point from which to select a topic of your own liking. Reference searches are conducted in the same way as a simple or an advanced search. In other words they are keyword driven. Here is a short list of Reference search sites:

Steps of a Reference Site Search Using InfoPlease

Step One

In this demonstration the researcher uses InfoPlease to search for information about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Feel free to click on InfoPlease and become the researcher yourself.

The screen-shot below illustrates the home page with Arctic National Wildlife Refuge entered into the search field. As you can see, the there is a search field and a drop-down menu from which to select a type of resource as well as a search button at the top of the page. Encyclopedia is the researcher's choice.

Screen shot of InfoPlease website

Step Two

This screen-shot illustrates the results of the search for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge limited to a search of Encyclopedia resources.

As you can see, the first 15 of 120 results are displayed in the browser window. Notice the light-blue directory menu on the left side of the browser window offering subdirectory headings within which the search could have been confined. Notice also, the resource type subdirectory buttons on the navigation bar below the search field at the top of the page.

Screen shot of InfoPlease website

Step Three

This screen-shot illustrates the browser window with Encyclopedia option selected from the resource type subdirectory buttons.

Notice the subject subdirectory on the right hand side of page. The researcher can elect to further define the parameters, or boundaries, of the search or simply enter Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the search field provided.

Screen shot of InfoPlease website

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