Harnessing the deep web: A practical plan for locating free specialty databases on the web

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to propose a practical plan for finding free specialty databases and search engines that access the Deep Web, the hidden part of the internet that offers a greater quantity and quality of information than the regular web. Design/methodology/approach - The author presents a self-paced, adaptable worksheet of Deep Web search techniques. An explanation is provided for the utilization of general search tools to identify other, more specialized search tools. The techniques therein build upon searching methods suggested by previous authors. Findings - The techniques facilitated the process of finding specialty tools. Practical implications - The article helps librarians compile toolkits of specialty databases for use in serving their patrons. Reference librarians with collection responsibilities can expand their libraries' collections at no cost by identifying free web databases. In developing countries, librarians without access to subsidized collections of databases can use the practical advice in this article to find free databases for their patrons. In addition, virtual reference librarians can use the techniques to discover databases that they can recommend to patrons in the absence of print reference books. Originality/value - The article illustrates an alternate, vertical strategy for web searching as opposed to the conventional, horizontal strategy of web searching. While other authors have already suggested some of these techniques, this article further develops these methods, synthesizes these ideas into a plan, and includes more techniques for Deep Web searching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-83
Number of pages13
JournalReference Services Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


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