Deep Web

Explained by Common Craft
When it comes to research, search engines are not enough. Waiting just out of their sight is a world of valuable resources called the Hidden or Deep Web.
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Video Transcript:

When it comes time to do research, the first step is often search engines. Using a search term, we can find websites, images, videos, blog posts and more that are free to view and can be useful.

But in reality, search engines can only see a small amount of what’s out there.  For the best research, we need to find information that doesn’t appear in normal search results.
That’s in what’s called the “hidden” or “deep” web and understanding it is a key to quality research.

Think about it like this… Search engines like Google are constantly scanning the web and organizing search results based on what they can see.

The problem is that search engines can’t log into websites or private databases, so all that valuable information remains hidden, just below the surface. This is the deep web and some say it’s up to 500 times bigger than the free web we see in search results.

The question is, how can researchers use the deep web to find information?

Often, using the deep web for research requires payment or special permissions for access.
That’s because deep web resources are often high value and authoritative, like a textbook, which contains facts and proven information.

Thankfully, many libraries and schools provide access to deep web resources for free. To see how this works, imagine that you’re a law student who needs to research legal cases that involve vehicle safety.

To start, you use a search engine to identify a few popular cases and opinions, but the information is not consistent or authoritative. To round out your research, you need the deep web.

Thankfully your university library offers access to a number of online databases that make legal research easier.

Or, imagine you want to rent your house. When someone applies, it’s your job to find out if they are trustworthy.

A search on the free web may show some interesting information. But it’s difficult to find reliable information on their credit or criminal history.

So, with their permission, you might pay a small fee to use a background check website to find the right information via the deep web.

The big idea is that normal search results can only go so far.  When you need reliable, authoritative information for research, remember that the deep web is full of useful resources that may come with a fee or be accessed for free from your library or school.


What it teaches:

This video is designed to highlight the major differences between the normal web sites we see in search results and the databases, services and websites that are found in the Hidden or Deep Web. It teaches:

  • How deep web resources are different than public websites and search results

  • Why deep web resources often require special permissions or payment
  • Where to find free access to the deep web
  • How the deep web is used in research and everyday situations

Video Info:

  • Duration:  02m 37s
  • Captions Available:  YES
  • Lesson Plan:  YES
  • Category:  Study Skills
  • ISTE Standard:  Knowledge Constructor, Indicator 3a
  • ACRL Info Literacy Frame:  Searching as Strategic Exploration

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