Finding Stuff

One of the nice things about a Webbie course is that you have access to the Web and all of its resources, good and bad. Hopefully one thing that you will learn in this course is how to browse and search the Web for information. There are a lot of different places to go and you will need to know differences between "authoritative" resources and "pop" sites.

Library Resources
A good place to start will be with your university's library Web site. You can probably get access to on-line data bases, on-line journals, library holdings, etc. Your goal is get all of the best information without having to ever physically go to the library on campus.

Jump Stations
Your course will probably supply a listing of resources in the topic area of the course, American Society for Physics, International Journal of Basket Weaving, and the Ethical Society for Accident Claim Lawyers (just kidding there isn't one). These sites are useful because they found and organized links to many other resources. Sometimes you can find these jump stations on your own. Many class projects for Webbie courses are to create these sites for others.

Search Engines
When you are desperate you can use a search engine. These are programs that have somewhat methodically searched and indexed pages on the Web. Type in a term or a query and they will give you a bunch of hits and mostly misses. Try them out and see what you get:

Sherlock and MetaCrawlers
Each of the search engines has some shortcoming. So another approach is to submit the query to a whole bunch of them and see what you get. That's what MetaCrawler and Sherlock do.

So then what to do with what you found? Well, you need to copy something. First you should copy the URL and the name of the site. If you are using this information in a report you should cite the resource with the URL and the date last accessed. You can also copy stuff from the site, images and text. But be careful. There are copyright laws to protect the intellectual property rights of the authors of the Web sites. Always give credit where credit is do. That usually avoids all problems and makes you look like a good student.

There is this fantasy that students often have. "I'll find a paper on topic on the Web, copy it, hand it in and get a good grade." Wrong. First of all, we all know where those papers are. Once you hand it in, it is easier for us to search the Web to see if it is out there. If we find it, and there is a high probability that we will, you are toast.

Second, a group of english teachers read and graded the papers posted on the Web. Guess what, the average was a "C".

But there is hope. The problem is that it involves a bit of work. You can make life a little easier by finding stuff on the Web but avoid plagiarism by taking what's out there and just rewriting, cutting and pasting, and adding a few of your own ideas. That's how college professors publish stuff, so it must be OK.

Copyright 2000, Web Manual Group