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How to Research Science on the Internet


• How to Research Science on the Internet
Guide to Chemical, Pesticide and Toxicology Web sites
Guide to International Environmental Websites

OPPTS Pathfinder

With so much science information on the Internet, it can be hard to know where to start and how to choose accurate sites. Good information can generally be found on government and university websites and in online databases that are part of the "invisible web." This pathfinder describes useful strategies for the science researcher. Note: This pathfinder mentions several specific websites, but a more complete list of useful toxicology websites can be found on a second pathfinder, "Guide to Chemical, Pesticide and Toxicology Websites."

What are the main tactics in finding what you need?

1 - Bookmark Great Websites
Bookmarking valuable websites is an essential step for consistent and efficient research. To find these websites, consult librarians and colleagues, and examine resource links compiled in Internet subject "portals." Read through this page of strategies for details on finding sites that are right for you.

2 - Begin with relevant resources offered by your school or workplace.
Many colleges, public libraries, and workplaces offer commercial databases (paid for by that institution) that can help you find materials. For more information, ask your supervisor or librarian.

3 - Explore the Invisible Web
As you identify and bookmark useful sites related to your specific research areas, don't forget to look at database websites that belong to the so-called "invisible" or "deep" web, a concept clearly explained in What is the Invisible Web? . (www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/InvisibleWeb.html)Exit Disclaimer. Examples include the librarian-produced Invisible Web (www.invisible-web.net/) Exit Disclaimer; a university-sponsored site EXTOXNET (ace.ace.orst.edu/info/extoxnet/ghindex.html)Exit Disclaimer; an international agency site, INCHEM (http://www.inchem.org)Exit Disclaimer, and OPP's Pesticide Products Database (ppis.ceris.purdue.edu/).Exit Disclaimer Such websites are considered invisible because their content is stored in databases that are not accessible via search engines.

To find many older EPA materials, go to a database of scanned EPA publications called NEPIS (the National Environmental Publications Information System) (www.epa.gov/clariton/index.htm). TOXLINE, a useful database from the National Library of Medicine lets you find citations of articles on toxicological topics: (toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?TOXLINE). Other good websites in this category are the many journal sites that allow the public to access the contents of current issues (full-text or abstracts), search the journal's archives, and view the table of contents of back issues, such as Chemical & Engineering News.Exit Disclaimer

4 - Bookmark Portals to Knowledge
Portal (or gateway) websites link the researcher to other relevant sites and can be a good starting place when researching a topic. There are general portals and specialized or niche portals. Portals can often be found at the websites of universities, government agencies, and professional associations. For example, Chemistry 2000 (www.ch.cam.ac.uk/c2k/).

Here are some other good examples of portals: The American Chemical Society's homepage (www.acs.org/)Exit Disclaimerwhich lets you search ACS journals, as well as other sources; Infomine (infomine.ucr.edu/)Exit Disclaimer, a virtual library for researchers that includes databases, electronic journals and books, bulletin boards, and library catalogs; and MedBioWorld (www.sciencekomm.at/)Exit Disclaimer, a portal to medical and bioscience journals, medical associations and related databases.

5 - Find Great Search Engines
When your bookmarked list is not enough, a search engine may provide some new directions. Take a look at this online tutorial that introduces basic Internet searching strategies:
"Searching the Internet: Search Engines and Subject Indexes" (a tutorial written by a school librarian): www.sldirectory.com/.Exit Disclaimer

Here are some recommended search engines:
Google at www.google.com/Exit Disclaimerhas found a big following around the country, though it is not foolproof. Aside from a high level of successful retrieval, it has two useful features: it saves copies of websites in a cache and it provides an "advanced search" that lets the searcher look within a domain. To search the EPA website, for example, go to "Advanced search" and put in "www.epa.gov" or simply type in your search terms plus "site:www.epa.gov" on the main Google page. Google provides a guide to "Building a Better Query"Exit Disclaimerand a description of its search features.Exit Disclaimer

Another good search engine is www.alltheweb.com/.Exit DisclaimerFor an excellent list of other effective search engines, check out The Librarian's Internet Index at lii.org/Exit Disclaimerand go to its "More Search Tools" page. Lastly, try a science search engine like Science.gov (www.science.gov) or Scirus (www.scirus.com/).Exit DisclaimerFind the search engines that work best for you.

Good luck searching.

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