Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research on the Free Web Tutorial: 1. The "Free" Web

Learning Outcomes

At the end of Module #1, students will be able to:

  • Understand how categories of access (e.g. free vs. fee) relates  to selection of search tools.
  • Explain the basics of how search engines gather and generate results.
  • Include motivations of search tool and web site providers in web evaluation.
  • Become aware of the variety of web search tools beyond Google.

We Love Infographics 1

Our first infographic!  The blog that led to this has many other interesting technology tidbits.  Here's the original source

(To enlarge, click the image and then click again when it appears on the new page)

Free vs. Not

When most people think about the web, they're thinking of the free web: the stuff you can get to you use a search engine like google. Actually, what you find on the free web is just a small fraction of what's out there. 

According to the infographic to the left (produced in 2010), Google covers a mere .004% of the material on the web.  That's just teeny tiny, folks.

If everything were on the free web, there would be no hackers, barriers, passwords, or subscription fees.  Issues of copyright, licensing for songs or movies and ownership would be even more complicated than they are now.  Issues of morals or ethics in searching for information would balloon (which is different from the moral and ethical issues in the use of information, but that's a story for another tutorial!) 

Because each Google search yields millions of hits, you might expect to find anything you need there for an academic assignment, but that's not the case. This tutorial will focus on the things that are available on the free web, while the Scholarly Research Tutorial covers fee-based sources.  Using both will be required for academic work.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we'll divide the Internet world into three categories:

1.  The Free Web: No payment or password to use.  Including...

  • The Surface Web: things that show up in search engine results
  • The Deep Web: things that show up only if you go directly to the site (e.g. books in a library catalog).

2.  The Fee Web:  Payment and password needed to use. This includes subscriptions to certain sites (e.g. Netflix, Rhapsody, World Of Warcraft) or use of the databases that the library provides for student use.

3.  The Hidden Web:  Delivered through the web, but you can't have it (e.g. grades of the people in your class, classified military information, or health records)


Previous  /  Next