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Research Guides

Journalism: Search the Deep Web

This guide supports students in COM 360, COM 361, and anyone trying to locate information available through the Deep/Invisible Web.

Review: The Deep Web

The Deep Web, also known as the Invisible Web, is a portion of the web not reached by standard search engines such as Google and Bing.  Less than 10% of the web is indexed by search engines with the remaining 90% of web content called the Deep Web.  It is estimated to be 2-500x bigger than the surface web. 

Content on the Deep Web is not found by most search engines because it is stored in a database which is not coded in HTML.  Google and Bing might lead us to a front door [a search interface], but it generally can't search the content of a databse.  It is up to you to search the database where the results of your search are loaded into a dynamically generated HTML page for viewing. 

For more info, see What is the Deep Web? story from CNNtech.



Deep Web search engines

Here are a few ways to search for content on the Deep Web:

Government & Law Directories/Lists

Make the mental shift from find the content to find a doorway to the content

  1. Look for databases - searchable databases of information, research, or data about a topic.  Try searching for a subject term and the word database.  Examples:  

    drug database
    public records database
    crime database
    languages database
    toxic chemicals database
    housing database
    "washington state" education database
  2. Look for guides, portals, and directories - searchable lists of links to information about a topic.  The best are constantly updated and have few broken links.  Examples:

    University of Washington Libraries Research Guides
    Library of Congress Virtual Reference Shelf
    Mining the Deep Web: Free Electronic Resources recommended by Upper School Library
    Journalist's Resource Research on today's news topics
    The 50 most influential think tanks in the United States
  3. Search for associations, foundations, even fan organizations.  Non-scholarly aficionados of a discipline will often create a list or portal of excellent resources.  For example:  Washington Associations and Organizations by Subject and the Washington State Agency Database
  4. University research centers and research institutes.  Universities that offer a program of study, centers, or institutes in a particular subject or field will often feature excellent portals to information in that field.  For example, the University of Washington has many Research Centers and Institutes.  The Pacific Northwest has a rich labor history and the UW Libraries has a large collection of labor papers and artifacts.  To provide access to this history, we have the Labor Archives of Washington
  5. Think tanks.  Corporations or organizations may form research centers or think thanks comprised of experts to study a particular subject (social issue, scientific problem, etc) and provide information, advice, and solutions on that subject. Corporations and policy makers may use the data and recommendations from these experts when making decisions and forming policies.  The Pew Research Center is a highly respected "non partisan fact thank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world."  Partisan think thanks include the Heritage Foundation (conservative) and the Brookings Institution (progressive). 

Find experts

In your community:

Consider where experts may be in your community - association, business, government, hospital, organization, university, etc. 

Explore their websites for:

  • staff directories (some are searchable by subject/area of expertise)
  • media/public relations sections that include press releases
  • calendars of upcoming events

When all else fails, call the organization's office and ask if anyone is available to speak to you about _____________.


Through local news:

Search the archives of your local news - newspapers, radio, TV - for stories related to your topic.  Which experts were interviewed in those stories?  Start by searching the  Access World News USA Washington database or go directly to issues of these newspapers:

See the Libraries' News research guide for more databases including  Global Newsstream and  PressReader.  

Through scholarly publications:

If you find a scholarly journal article related to your topic, chances are the author is an expert in that subject.  Want to be sure?  Check the author's credentials.  See how many people have cited the article using Google Scholar or   Web of Science.  If an article has been cited by many other authors, it'is likely that the original article is significant to the area of research. 


Through UW resources: