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How to Find Scholarly Research Online


Research is important in many career fields and certainly for college degree programs, where students are accustomed to online research. While information from the “Open Web” is immeasurable, most of the Internet’s information is not available there.  Most of it, in fact, is buried within the Web and difficult to find.

Research from the Deep Web – also called the Hidden Web and the Invisible Web – is essential for most courses today.

“The Web is revolutionizing scholarly research, yet can be a confusing place for beginning and even established researchers,” says Fred Stielow, Ph.D., M.L.S. Stielow is vice president of libraries at the online school(s) American Public University and American Military University.

“Google, Bing, Yahoo and other public search engines offer unprecedented searching power – but can also be an ‘intellectual mess’ for scholars. How can you extract the academically credible resources for a research paper from millions of hits?” he says.

Stielow has a corps of research librarians who offer these tips on where and how to search the Hidden Web.

Start in an Academic Library Site. The first rule is to check out the university library.

  • Article Databases & E-Books: The library will have millions of pages of materials licensed and purchased from the Deep Web.
  • Department and Course Portals: Librarians often work with faculty to tailor “electronic pathfinders” into both deep and Open Web resources for a university’s programs and even individual courses. For example, AMU and APU guides at http://apus.libguides.com/. See if the school has such supplemental tools, as they can significantly simplify and enhance your studies.

Ten Top Open Web Resources.
Here are tools that AMU and APU librarians find useful for general research purposes:

  • CIA Factbook, a rich great international resource
  • Directory of Open Access Journals, more than 5,000 free scholarly journals
  • Google Scholar, an academically targeted version of the world’s leading search engine
  • IPL2, update of the Internet Public Library
  • Library of Congress, Access to the resources of the world’s largest library
  • MERLN, the Military Education Research Library Network
  • USA.Gov, the main access portal to U.S. governmental resources
  • WolframAlfa, specialized knowledge search engine
  • World Cat, from OCLC has the world’s most complete list of published books
  • Wikipedia (The hidden sin. Use it for background and leads, but in keeping with Style Manual guidelines do not cite or, normally, quote)

Whether you are a college student or simply interested in lifelong learning, the Deep Web offers an incredible new world of discovery.

– Fred Stielow, Contributing Writer
Associate VP & Dean of Library & Educational Materials at American Public University (APU)