An introduction to data and information
An introduction to data and information

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An introduction to data and information

4.2.2 Using the web more effectively: gateways

A gateway on the web is a website intended to direct users to other preselected websites containing information on a particular topic. It can also refer to a computer that acts as a message router on the internet

University librarians often set up gateways for particular areas of study, although they may be set up by anyone with sufficient expertise in a topic. Gateways may be fairly general, such as a gateway site for sciences, or more specific, such as a gateway for particle physics.

Professional or vocational bodies may also develop gateways useful to their members, as may hobby organisations. A well-known gateway for people interested in family history and genealogy is Cyndi's List. This is updated by volunteers who notify new links relevant to topics of interest such as seventeenth and eighteenth century ships' passenger lists, local history websites, lists of names of war veterans, and so on.

Many gateway sites are searchable, often using the same search engines (e.g. Google) that are available directly through browsers. Because the search engine limits its search to the gateway site's indexes, this can prove to be a more focused way to search, particularly if the topic is one that is likely, in the wider web, to yield lots of spurious results.

Figure 11 shows the main page of a gateway website about historical maps and cartography aimed at academics, students, historians and map collectors. It contains the following:

  • a selectable list of main topics on the left, each of which may contain links to other pages or other websites;

  • selectable boxes at the top giving the index to the site, a site map page explaining how the site is organised, an ‘ABOUT’ link telling the user who hosts the site (the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London), and a ‘WHAT'S NEW’ link with information about recent changes to the site;

  • welcoming messages (stating who the intended audience of the site is);

  • a search engine with which to search the site.

Figure 11 The main page of the gateway website for map history and the history of cartography

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