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Philosophy and Religious Studies

Tips and tricks

You can use the same search strategies you use in your every day life to search the internet (you've been doing it for years!). You can also apply the advice in the Search Strategy, Advanced Search Techniques, and Find Articles tabs on the left to make you more effective. 

The tabs in this box highlight different areas of the internet you may want to consider in your search, beyond Kemp Library's databases - or if the assignment asks for a website beyond a newspaper or magazine, etc.

Don't forget to evaluate your websites - check out the Website tab on the left.  

If you run into a website where you can't navigate it easily or the search won't work, links are broken, etc. try going to a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing), and searching the name of the website and keywords of what you're looking for.  This is a workaround strategy.


You're having trouble finding information on the U.S. Census Bureau's website. No matter what you do, the pages you can find on poverty aren't right or are the wrong information. Go to (or whatever your search engine of choice is), type in "us census bureau poverty 2017" and see what comes up.  You can get more specific or use different keywords or keyword types - like poverty and children, poverty threshold, poverty and hunger, etc.  Your results will all be from the Census Bureau's website so you can navigate it outside of the webpage's own navigation (see image below).  Try to use terms your search engine can find.

You know how to use Google, but do you know how to get to the advanced search in Google? You can also edit your search settings in Google. There is a video at the bottom of the box on how Google works as well. 

Don't forget about Google Scholar or Google Books either.

You can access the Advanced Search and your Search Settings by clicking on Settings in the lower right-hand corner of

The top ten search engines in the world as of 2018 and 2019 are:

  1. Google
  2. Bing
  3. Yahoo
  4. Ask
  5. AOL
  6. Baidu (Chinese)
  7. Wolframalpha - searches formulas, computations, calculations, and more! This is not your normal search engine
  8. DuckDuckGo - if you're into your privacy, this is your search engine. They don't track your searches or information, they have browser extensions, and they have some other nice features you may be interested in. 
  9. InternetArchive - you can see how websites used to look, as well as access tons of freely available content.
  10. (Russian)

Two new top search engines added in 2020 are Yippy and Usearch, which pulls in deep web results. For more on these and some of our other top ten search engines check out this article

The results are based on (ending updates October 2020 for a bunch of reasons, cost and keeping up with coding being the two big ones).

A great science search engine is Science Stack - Academic Search Engine.  This combines the search of Mendeley and PLoS and allows for data interaction in new and creative ways. Great for academic science searching. This also has Firefox extensions and add-ons.  

Metadata Search Engines use other search engines to perform a search - typically they search multiple search engines at once and aggregate the data into one result stream. Some of these are better than others, but it's up to you if you want to consider using them or not. A major con is that most aren't able to sift through the results properly so you get a lot of irrelevant results. What's available changes frequently, but you can find out more over at Wikipedia.  A couple examples are All4One, one of the first metasearch engines, and Metacrawler. You can also check out this article if you're interested in trying others.


Web Directories have two typical structures. One is hierarchical, which lead from general topics to more specific ones, and usually covers a broad range of topics. The other typically just lists sources in some sort of order, like alphabetical and covers resources on a specific topic like Game of Thrones fan theories.   The turnover rate on these can be high, but some stick around for a while. One that is a great resource for college students is the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Have you heard the term "the invisible web", "deep web", or "the dark web"? This refers to the internet that is below the surface of what most search engines, including Google, look at and access.  The fact is, most information in things like databases is completely inaccessible to search engines like Google or Bing.  Information that Google or Bing can see is called the "visible" web.

Information on the invisible or deep web can be accessed, but only through specific channels.  Anything that can't be found through a normal search engine like Google or Bing is considered the deep web. Why is this worth your time? The invisible web is estimated to be thousands of times larger and the visible web.

The dark web is a small part of the deep web that has been deliberately hidden and is generally inaccessible unless you're an IT wizard.

So how do you use the deep web?  Two of the broadest are the Virtual Library, despite the old school interface and Infoplease.  You can also check out these lists of deep web resources

BrightPlanet is a company who mines the deep web for various companies and reasons as their day job. They have a couple articles on their website as well that go into more detail about what the deep web is, the differences between the dark web and the deep web, and more! They've also written a white paper that you can get for free at the dark web link.

"Stopwords" or "stop words" are words that search engines, datagases, or any search interface may ignore, skip or may completely interrupt your search.  They may also affect how your results are listed (or in technical terms, "indexed"). These are usually common words such as "the, a, an, but". You can see what a specific search engine or database, etc.'s stopwords are by Googling or otherwise looking up the name of the interface and "stopwords".

Example: "what are Google stop words" or "what are EBSCOhost stop words"

You can see EBSCOhost's list of sample stop words and how they handle them here, or you can see the same information in the attached PDF.

Keyboard shortcuts that work in every browser - these will assist you in becoming a master of time efficiency! There are tons more out there that may be of use to you.