QUESTION: (a) With the aid of examples, identify and describe three different types of search engines. (12)
(b) Explain the merits and demerits of using search
engines in academic research. (13)

A search engine is a program which searches the database, gathers and reports the information which contains the specified or related terms (Mark, 2010) . Basically, there are three classes of search engines which are structure, content and size, but the content class is more relevant in this research. This class includes general search engines, meta search engines and specialist/vertical search engines.
The general search engine covers the overall Web, using its own spider to collect web pages for its own index. Any change in the web pages can be identified by the crawler and will influence the listing of web pages in the search engines. When searching for relevant information for a specific search query, crawler based search engine works efficiently and provides relevant results. But, when interested in searching the general search query, then it provides many irrelevant search results. Because the spider in this engine searches the web constantly, it provides updated information. Examples of general search engines are Google, Bing, Yahoo, Gigablast and Exalead.
Furthermore, there are meta search engines. These fetch results from other search engines. The fetched results are combined and ranked again according to their relevancy. In addition, meta search engines are useful when each search engine has a significantly unique index and search engines are less savvy. Because other search engines have improved a lot, the need for these meta search engines has reduced. These search engines are used when one wants the convenience of searching a variety of different content sources from one search page, when one’s topic is obscure and when one wants to retrieve a relatively small number of relevant results. Meta Crawler, MSN, Search .com, Mamma, Dog Pile and Clusty are some of the examples of meta search engines.
Moreover, the other type of search engines is specialist or vertical. It searches a specific subject, topic, type of content, piece of data, geographical location and so on. It may help to think of vertical search for a particular niche. Some of this content cannot be found, or is difficult to find, on general search engines. To find a vertical/specialist search engine, one can use a general search engine and try to find a search site dedicated to a particular type of content, for example medical search, job search and so on. A specialist or vertical search engine is used when one’s topic is focused on a specific topic, industry, content type, geographical location, and language. It is also used when one is having difficulty locating what they want on general, meta or concept categorizing search engines. The examples of specialist/vertical search engines are Google scholar which is used as a specialist search for full text scholarly articles and Worldwide science, a specialist search engine for sciences.
On the other hand, search engines have got their merits and demerits in academic research. Considering merits, exhaustive information can be retrieved by a search engine. Secondly, through using a search engine, people can expand their knowledge easily by simply typing keywords in search box and in less than a second thousands of useful answers will show on your screen. More so, search engines are best suited for complex keyword/concept searches. Through using search engines, sources can be limited to a period of time, fields, source type, etc. Some search engines, such as LewisNexis can be accessed freely. Engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo pay for their operations through advertising thus searches are free to the user. Currency of information is also made possible by regular addition by web spiders.
The demerits of using search engines in academic research include that search engines show way too much useless on our screen. Sometimes you cannot even find anything useful from searching results. It wastes time to pick up useful information from seas of searching results. In addition, those who use search engines frequently may become lazy. Every time they meet difficulties they just go for search engine. They do not spend a little time to think of them. Use of search engines may lead to spamming. Another demerit is that search engines mostly rank pay sites when giving results of a search topic. Search engines also vary in terms of searching techniques which may confuse the users when they are used to one search engine.

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