Subject Directories & More

Subject Directories

As the presentation demonstrated, subject directories take a much different approach from Web search engines. Instead of striving to index as many web pages as possible, they collect a limited number of sites and organize them by category. This allows you to find a bunch of sites that deal with similar issues.

Page from the Open Directory (DMOZ)

The subject directories categorize their sites hierarchically; this system allows you to follow a path logically from a broad topic to a narrower one. Two of the oldest and most extensive directories on the Web are provided by Yahoo! and the Open Directory Project. Here you can find listings for everything from Mexican newspaper websites, to sites dealing with the U.S. Electoral College, to sites on Galileo.

While these enormous subject directories can be useful if you want to find lots of websites on a particular topic, they do not limit themselves to high-quality sources. But some directories do—so they will be invaluable for you in finding sources for your work.

Here are a few academic subject directories you might want to bookmark for use in the future:


And the federal government has several directories. These focus on federal agencies, but occasionally link to reliable outside sources as well. Since government information can be hard to find, these are great places to start.

These directories are easy to browse, but you can also get started quickly by searching; just look for a search box somewhere on the home page.

When you search a subject directory, you are searching the titles and descriptions of the sites listed in it, not the full text of the sites. To search the full text of websites, you need to use a Web search engine.