Search engines trawl vast sections of the web but they do not search everywhere! In particular search engines do not search within library catalogues and databases (two of the most important sources for finding scholarly information).
Additionally each search engine has slightly different coverage and will provide you with different results.
No! Not everything is available on the web - especially not for free. If you rely solely upon the web you will miss out on many of the most important materials for academic research which are only available through your library's subscription services.
The following search engines are particularly useful for academic research:
Google Scholar is designed to broadly search for scholarly literature on the Internet. It contains references to peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles. The full text of these materials is provided (if it is available for free via the web) and you can also link to the UoB's electronic resources (see the Guide). Where the It will not find: newspaper articles, magazine articles, audiovisual materials, information from government websites, charities and professional organisations (apart from books and reports). To find out how you can get the best from Google Scholar and use it to link to the UoB's electronic resources click here.
Google NewsGoogle news is a computer-generated news website that gathers news headlines from more than 4,500 news sources worldwide, groups stories together and then displays them under broad headings. It is automatically set to search only for news headlines from the last month. If you want to search for news stories from more than 30 days ago use Google News Archive search for sources that go back over 200 years. Check out the Newspapers and news sources section for further news services.
Google has the widest coverage of all the main search engines. It will find both good and poor quality information intermingled - it is therefore up to you to evaluate the quality of the material you find. Google ranks results according to their popularity - the more other sites link to a site the higher that site will appear on your list. However, popularity doesn't necessarily equal quality! Click here for tips on how you can get the best out of Google.
A meta search engine searches several search engines simultaneously; increasing your number of results. They are chiefly useful if you need to find some very specific information.
Dogpile searches Google, Yahoo, Search, Live Search and Ask.com simultaneously.
Rollyo: Roll Your Own Search Engine
Allows you to create your own search engine by entering the URLs of up to 25 web sites that you trust and find useful.