Some questions are easier to answer through the web than others. If it has to do with current events, law, computers, popular culture, commercial products, organizations, or public affairs, the web offers a lot; if you're looking for research or scholarship, you aren't as likely to find what you want (though in some fields that is changing). Not everyone wants to give their research away for free.
It's particularly important to evaluate Web resources before you decide to use them in your research.
The first question to ask is:?should I use the Web for this project or not? The Web is great for some topics, but is not a good place to find literary criticism, scholarly analysis of social issues, or the kind of broad overview written by a noted scholar that a really good specialized encyclopedia can provide. In addition to its print resources, libraries often pay for resources that are accessed through the web; these aren't indexed in search engines. Some "free" sites for magazines and newspapers charge for using their archives; library databases offer them at no charge. Consider these steps as you plan a search:
Because there is such a wide variety of information from so many sources on the Web, it's extremely important to evaluate what you find using the same criteria you use for all your sources.
Ironically, Web sources that seem scholarly are quite often badly out of date. The Catholic Encyclopedia, for example, is a copy of a reference work pubished in 1917. The library has the up-to-date 2002 edition in the reference collection, but had to pay rather a lot of money for it. The one that is free online is so old it's no longer under copyright.?Unfortunately, though convenient, it's only useful if you want information about the Catholic church in 1917. A few things have changed since then.
The following are useful for a wide variety of purposes.
Infomine - searchable directory of scholarly sources from the University of California
IPL2 - annotated directory of interesting sites
Scirus - a search engine of articles and Web sites in the sciences
Scout Archives - maintained at the University of Wisconsin
Google News - an automated news aggregator. You can change your view by country and read news in various languages
Images you can use
Flickr Creative Commons - millions of searchable, copyrighted photos that can be reused under stated conditions.
MorgueFile - a collection of free images for creative use.
World Images Kiosk - over 50,000 fine art images available for educational use from the California State University system.
There's also a great deal of information available on the Web in the way of statistics, maps, and official documents. And each of the Web pages for majors includes recommend sites relevant to particular disciplines.
Image courtesy of Anthony Mattox.
Go on to...