In the following sections, we offer some advice about resources that we have found helpful in our own current and best practices research. The lists are far from exhaustive, but they do reflect resources that we have actually used and would use again.
Using a search engine consists of entering keywords that are run against a database. As search engine databases vary in size, frequency of updates and search capabilities, using different engines can lead to results that vary considerably. The following sites are search engines that have very large databases and search capabilities and are most efficient in retrieving relevant and unique hits.
Northern Light: http://www.northernlight.com
Northern Light is both a free search engine and a fee database. In addition to searching the Web, it offers access to its special collection of more than 4,500 full text articles online for a minimum fee (usually $1). Northern Light is also very efficient in searching the Web and retrieving relevant results especially if you have a rather complex query. Moreover, it organizes the results of your search in folders according to type of documents, subject or sources.
Alta Vista: http://www.altavista.com
Alta Vista provides good returns due to its intricate searching capabilities and large database. It is efficient for complex or specific searches. Also, it is one of the few Web sites that provides hits from newsgroup discussions that can be very useful to best or current practice research. You can select to only search these newsgroups' discussions or messages.
Yahoo has a collection of more than 500,000 sites pre-classified into more than 25,000 categories. It is a directory and not a search engine. Therefore it is very efficient for general or common searches. However, for more specific terms, Alta Vista or Northern Light are better.
Google is a very comprehensive search engine; it ranks hits by the number of incoming links and the popularity of the sites. It is very efficient for searches with more than one word. It also features a special search engine solely for U.S. government documents; you can access Uncle Sam by typing: www.google.com/unclesam.
Hotbot has unique and very user-friendly advanced search capabilities. You can filter your search by language, date (pages published within 2 weeks or 2 years), domain (retrieve only pages with a .com, .gov, or .edu domain), region (only U.S. pages for example), or you can filter out a particular word (should contain the word ... and not the word ... ). Also you can type a url in the search box and click on "Look for links to this url" (box on the left) and Hotbot will retrieve for you all the Web pages that have a link to the url you typed.
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