This guide discusses understanding information sources, formulating a topic and search phrase, where and how to search the library for information, how to evaluate sources, how to cite sources, and more.
Did you know that Google indexes over 1 trillion web pages? That's a lot of information out on the web! You don't want to wade through that many web pages to find the information you need, so in addition to evaluating every source you find online, you'll want to employ effective searching techniques.
Whenever possible, use advanced search features to control your search. For example, Google allows you to limit your search to just government or educational web sites via a domain limiter. It's true that you can find some high-quality, trustworthy websites to use in your research. If you're going to use websites, make sure to evaluate your sources thoroughly. Check out our Google Like a Librarian guide for search tips or ask a librarian (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need more help.
It is particularly important that you evaluate any web resources you use (e.g. websites, blogs, wikis, etc.) because there is no editorial process for the web and anyone can post anything online. When evaluating web resources it is important to pay attention to details.
When evaluating websites, first ask yourself: How did you find the website?
Did a professor or another reliable source recommend it?
Was it cited in a scholarly or credible source?
Was it a link from a reputable website?
Did you find it by using a search engine like Google?
In addition to following the C.R.A.A.P.O. guidelines for evaluating sources, consider these 3 special criteria to consider when evaluating websites: