Specialty Search: Index
Esoteric, Paranormal, UFO (8)
FTP Search Tools (8)
Language Tools (7)
Public Records (9)
Science Search Engines (10)
Introduction to Specialty Searching
Specialized search engines index materials that relate to particular subjects or fields. This material can include information indexed from websites, abstracts of documents that are not online and data gathered by the specialized engine. General web search engines index material found at websites about all subjects.
Specialty search engines can vary widely in size, scope, and the type of materials they include in their databases. For example, Medline, the search engine developed by the National Library of Medicine, contains abstracts of articles from thousands of medical journals worldwide, going back several decades.
Bible browser, a small specialized search engine, indexes every word of several versions of the Bible.
There is no firm dividing line between a specialized search engine and a searchable directory (both are listed on this page). Whether a site can be considered a specialized search engine depends on the amount of information it contains, whether it is focused on one subject, how specialized the materials are, whether it is continually updated and supplemented, and other factors.
Use a specialized search engine when you are looking for detailed or specific information about a subject area. For example, if you're trying to locate on the internet, a US Federal bill about a particular issue that was considered in the 106th Congress, you're likely to find it in Thomas Legislative Information.
If you're looking for a job, an auto, a restaurant or anything else that is specific to your needs, a specialized search engine that can match the requirements of the data you are looking for would be the best place to go.
A specialty search engine can be a gold mine when you're looking for in depth information about a topic. For example, if you want to find not only a review of a movie, but the cost of producing the movie, the amount of money the movie earned and the names and experience of the entire cast, you could go to the Internet Movie Database, and get all of this information in a few minutes.
For most searches, it's advisable to try your query on a general web search engine (e.g. Google, Alta Vista, Fast) before going to a specialized engine. If you're looking for an overview of a subject rather than specific or detailed information, this is especially true.
The major web search engines are much larger than specialty search engines, and some attempt to index the entire web. Depending on your subject, you will probably retrieve more documents from a general search engine than from a specialty search engine, including useable items from sources outside your field.
For example, if you're looking for information on George Washington, a general search engine might include a site which contains information about the clothes George Washington wore. A history search engine probably wouldn't index a textile site.
Being able to search several different engines from one location using entry forms (search boxes)is a convenience and can give you an idea of which engines would be useful to your search. This directory has several of these (search boxes) However, don't depend entirely on these search boxes.
Many of the specialized search engines have a number of different collections of materials you can choose and menu boxes depending on the type of information you're searching for. Results will be better when you search from within particular search engine.
When you enter your keyword, with a specialized search engine, try to use terminology that is common for the particular subject. For example, in a religion search engine, you'll probably get better results using soul as a search word than personality, but with a psychology search engine, the opposite is true.
The search systems of specialty search engines are often not as powerful or intuitive as general web search engines, and many of them require the use of Boolean operators rather than plus or minus signs. You should always glance at the advanced search, search tips or help pages. Sometimes a simple "+" or "-" AND or OR can make sifting through results livable, sometimes great.