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RefSeek is a new NY-based search engine that’s targeting students and researchers. The company describes themselves as, "RefSeek.com searches the entire Web for freely available academic information, providing relevant results while filtering out most commercial content."
Their demo shows the difference between results on Google and RefSeek for the term "flowers". On Google you get florists in the results, on RefSeek you get plant sciences listings.
Stan Schroeder wonders if there’s a real reason to switch to RefSeek from Google. Stan notes, "Unfortunately for RefSeek, once you start thinking from a scientist, student, or a researcher’s standpoint, Google – surprisingly – doesn’t fare all that bad."
From my perspective, RefSeek would work well if they went with the Hakia model. Offer a very strong human-powered directory along with search when needed. Make it so the directory answers about 80% of the needs of their target market and let the search handle the other 20%.