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Tutorial: Doing Research on the Internet Pt. 3

Subject Catalogs & Directories

Subject catalogs and directories are created by humans. The sites are submitted by people to the site for consideration and then listed under the most appropriate subject categories. Many of these directories also offer a search engine capability, which adds to the convenience of that site -- and to the confusion when one is using it. One can both search the site's categories or just browse the categories that appear useful.

  • Using subject directories produces fewer results than search engines, which can be either good or bad, depending on one's needs. For example, the Yahoo directory contains 4 listings for "sociolinguistics", one gets 4 hits; a search on this term in Lycos finds 171,800 results.
  • Another disadvantage is in the updating of the information. Often a site moves or expires and the index does not reflect these changes. Some search engines automatically search and re-index the web periodically, so that they are more current that the directories indexes.
  • Subject directories are usually hierarchical: links are arranged in categories, which branch into sub-categories, etc. It can be a challenge to find the right category for a subject. Most Subject directories provide a "search in directory" tool that is useful for pinpointing the category for a particular subject.

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