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Simpson | Stafford | Special Collections

English: Navigating the Internet

A research guide to finding books, articles, and other resources in English and literature

Evaluating Websites

Criteria for evaluating websites include:

  • Accuracy
  • Authority
  • Coverage
  • Currency
  • Objectivity

Remember to examine websites carefully before using them for research purposes.  If you still aren't sure, ask a librarian or your professor for assistance.

Using Virtual Libraries

Virtual libraries . . .

♦  Provide directories of carefully selected Web resources.

♦  Include annotations (summaries) of the selected websites.

♦  Are usually maintained by librarians or other information specialists.

♦  Furnish the quality control that is lacking in web search engines.

Users can usually browse by subject or search.  For example, see:

Finding Dulcinea: Librarian of the Internet. (If the search feature does not work, try this link.)

See also the Library of Congress's Virtual Reference Shelf, which includes "selected online resources for research," and Alcove Nine: An Annotated List of Reference Websites.

Citing Your Sources

While writing research papers, you may need to:

  List your sources in bibliographies or works cited, and

♦  Provide either footnotes or endnotes.

Here is a link to the UMW Libraries' Guide to Citing Resources.

Navigation Menu

When looking for web resources related to any of the following topics, either click on these links or scroll down:

Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Guides

Electronic Texts Collections


Children's and Young Adult Literature

Public Issues

Google Tricks

Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Guides

Provides definitions and word origins, as well as traces word usage.
A guide prepared by librarians at the Internet Public Library.
Contains online encyclopedias, thesauri, dictionaries, quotation books, anthologies, literary histories, and reference works.

Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders
"A database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields."

Electronic Texts Collections

Includes links to more than 140,000 freely available books.
An online archive of prose and poetry.
Provides full text or parts of books.
Contains more than 25,000 digital texts of English-language books.


Website of the Academy of American Poets.
An electronic archive of American poetry published before 1920.
Covers Anglo-Saxon times to the end of the nineteenth century.
Provides definitions, phonetic pronunciations, usage notes, literary quotations, etc.
An online collection of poetry with about 7,000 works by some 800 authors.
Includes more than 3,000 poems by some 500 poets from the Old English period to today.

Children's and Young Adult Literature

Enables users to compile tailored reading lists of high-quality books for children and young adults.

Public Issues

Academic Search Complete (approximately 1880s to date)
Provides abstracts and full-text articles from more than 10,000 books, scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, and reference works on a wide variety of topics. Can also select or choose all the databases that the company provides by clicking on "choose databases."

Commonwealth of Virginia
Website of the state of Virginia.

Debatabase: A World of Great Debates
A collection of more than 700 debates on current, significant issues. "They cover topics from affirmative action to Zimbabwe, on all sorts of themes including politics, economics, religion, culture, science and society."

Government Resources
Provides links to both federal and state resources.  Maintained by the University of Mary Washington Library.
Helps "citizens find and track bills in the U.S. Congress and understand their representatives’ legislative record."

Issues and Controversies (1995 to date)
Since 1995, Issues and Controversies has covered the most "prominent and hotly debated issues of the day," offering in-depth analyses, pro-con articles, and bibliographies. (An online subscription database; off-campus UMW users must log in)

Nexis Uni (coverage varies; mostly 1980s to date)
Contains full-text articles from newspapers, magazines, legal and business sources, reference books, and other works. To find editorials, click on "Advanced Search" and select "News" after clicking on "Select a specific content type."  Add "editorial" to your search terms.  Click on "Add" after filling out each drop-down window.  Click "Search" when finished. Center for Responsive Politics
A non-profit research group tracks "money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy."  For "Issue Profiles," click on "News & Analysis" tab.
A non-profit organization offering nonpartisan, pro-con research articles on more than fifty controversial issues.  The website "provides a "platform for people to question information, evaluate opposing views, and debate them in a respectful way."

Public Policy Issues and Groups
A collection of policy issues, interest groups, research centers, and educational sites.  Maintained by the Vanderbilt University Library.

Think Tank Search
Provides a "Google Custom Search of more than 590 think tanks and research centers."  Maintained by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
An "online guide to government information and services."  See site index at the bottom.

Google Tricks

  • Use quotation marks for exact words or phrases.
    • For example, “global warming” (to search global warming as a phrase rather than two separate words).
  • Use an asterisk as a wildcard or a placeholder. 
    • For example, universit* (for university or universities); “a * saved is a * earned”
  • Use OR to search for one word or the other.  Useful for synonyms. 
    • For example, attorneys OR lawyers
  • Use site: to search within a site or domain (no space after colon).
    • For example, “global warming”; climatology
  • Use a dash to exclude a word or phrase from a search. 
    •  For example, cougar speed –car; “global warming” –
  • Use allintitle: to show results with word(s) in the title (no space after colon).
    • For example, allintitle:“global warming”
      • You can also use allinurl to find websites with words in the URL.
  • Use related: to search for sites similar to ones you know (no space after colon).
    • For example,
  • Use link: to find sites linked to a particular web page (no space after colon).
    • For example,;
  •  Use filetype: to restrict results to certain file type (no space after colon).
    • For example, climatology filetype:pdf
  • Use two periods without spaces to search for a number range, such as dates, prices, and measurements.
    • For example, “test scores” 2013..2014; microwaves $100..$300