Locating & Evaluating Sources

Locating Sources

Google Advance Search
Site or Domain (example .ca, .edu) 
File Type (example: pdf, ppt)

Google Search Education
Search Literacy lessons and A Google A Day classroom challenges

Sweet Search
Sweet Search is “A Search Engine for Students”. It searches only 35,000 websites that have already been evaluated and approved by a staff of Internet research experts, librarians and teacher consultants.

35 Search Tips for Google

To search for an exact phrase, with the same words in the same order, place quotation marks (“) around the phrase.           Ex: “to be, or not to be”

To exclude results that include a particular word or site when searching words with multiple meanings, place a dash (-) before the word or site to omit.                 Ex: phoenix -Arizona

To search for a phrase with missing words, place an asterisk (*) within the search as a placeholder for any unknown terms                 Ex: if you give a * a *

How Can A Researcher Avoid Using Inaccurate Information?

The following websites illustrate the need to have a healthy dose of skepticism about online information:
Step 1: Begin Researching Using “Trustworthy Resources”
“Trusted resources” such as print resources, online encyclopedia or online databases allow the researcher to become familiar with the topic and to be able to make an informed decision about the accuracy of additional resources that may be used later.

Step 2: Question the Validity of “Non-Trustworthy Resources”
a) Who (Authority)
• Who is the author(s) of the website?
• What is the domain of the URL?
·         .com (commercial organizations)
·         .org (usually non-profit organizations, but not always)
·         .edu (educational institutions)
·         .gov (government)
·         .net (organizations involved in Internet services)
·         .int (international organizations)
• Is it a personal page? (URL Clues: ~ % "users" "people")
• Is there an "about the author" link?
• What credentials do they have (level of education, career, research)?
• Can you contact the author by email or regular mail?
• Who else links to this site? Search on AltaVista or Google with link:URL

b)   What (Authenticity)

• Is information presented clearly, accurately and respectfully?
• Can you find the information in other sources?
• Are the author's sources documented?
• Does it present a balanced perspective and show other viewpoints?
• Is there anything missing that should be there?
• Is there too much advertising?

c)   Why

• What is the purpose of the site? Sometimes the domain of the URL is a hint. Sometimes you can truncate back the URL to find the sponsor.
• Is there an "About us" page?
• Does the sponsor/author want to share information, persuade, sell, entice, inform, explain?
• Is the information suitable for the intended audience?
d)   When
• Have the pages been updated recently?
• Are the links all working?
• Do the links go to current resources?

e)   How
      • Is the website easy to read and use?
• Is the website organized well so that the user can navigate easily?
• Does the website load quickly?
(adapted from Valenza, 2003, Oregon State Library, 2006 and McMillan, 2007)