The web contains many hundreds of millions of pages – from rigorous research to trivia and misinformation.
When searching the web you need to evaluate what you find and decide whether it’s appropriate to use in your academic work – and more importantly whether it’s going to gain you marks or lose them!
This tutorial on smart searching in Google will help you navigate to the kind of information you wish to find.
This tutorial from SPCC Libraries will help you understand how to search Google Scholar and its limitations.
Ask yourself some questions about the web resource that you’re thinking about using:
- Who is responsible for the page/site?
- Is it a reliable organisation (e.g. a well known university) or a subject expert?
- Can you trust them?
Tip! Look for the ‘About us’ or ‘Contact us’ page to find out a bit more about who is responsible for the site. Does the type of web address the site has tell you anything about the authors? For example, .ac.uk = hosted by UK higher education; .edu = US educational institutions; .gov = government site; .org = non-profit organisation.
- Accuracy and reliability
- Is the information correct?
- Is the information fact or opinion?
- Do they have their own agenda, e.g. political organisations?
- Is the grammar and spelling correct?
- Can you tell how up-to-date it is?
- Is it regularly updated?
Tip! Look for the date the page was last updated.
- Audience / relevance
- Is the information of the right level to be included in your assignment? If it is aimed at the general public or school children it might not be!
- Is the site well structured and easy to navigate?
- Are the links from the page up-to-date and valid?