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Research 101: Library Research Basics

Google: Finding websites and more

What is Google?

  • Google is a powerful Internet search engine.
  • Google searches the web for content posted on the Internet, usually in the form of websites.
  • Since anyone post content on the Internet, you'll want to make sure you're using credible websites in your research. (Review the "Evaluating sources" section of this guide to learn how!)

Google Search Tips for Research

Tips covered in the above tutorial include:

  • Using quotation marks " " around a phrase to search an exact word order
  • Using capital OR to search for synonyms or related terms
  • Using the minus sign - to remove a search term
  • Using site: to search within a website or top-level domain

Helpful Google Research Tools

  1. Google Books: Use Google Books to browse portions of electronic books found on the open web.
  2. Google Images: Use Google Images to find images, charts, graphs, and statistics. Don't forget to cite the original source!
  3. Google Scholar: Use Google Scholar to find peer-reviewed scholarly articles on the open web. Check our Google Scholar guide to see how to incorporate our library database links!

Steps for evaluating sources

When you encounter an unfamiliar source, SIFT:

1. STOP

  • If you are unsure about the source of the information you're reading, take the following actions and don't share or use the information in your research until you know more about it!

2. INVESTIGATE THE SOURCE

  • If you are unfamiliar with a website, newspaper, magazine, or scholarly journal, type the name of the source or website in Google or Wikipedia and learn what others have discovered about this source. Is it a respected journalistic source, a heavily-biased news outlet, or a known satire website?
  • Google the name of the author and check their credentials. Are they a respected journalist reporting in a respected source like The New York Times or Science magazine? Do they have credentials or authority in a specific field of research? If you are looking for more information about a scholar, you can search their name in scholar.google.com to see their publications.

3. FIND THE ORIGINAL SOURCE

  • In web articles, look for signal phrases like "According to ...." and "as reported by...." to see who reported the claim first. If the article hyperlinks or references another source, check that source. Are they linking to themselves, or to outside credible sources?
  • If you are reading an academic source, check their references list. Do they cite other scholars in books and journals, or are they only citing web articles and Wikipedia?

4. TRACE CLAIMS, QUOTES, AND MEDIA TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE

The above "SIFT" method is adapted from Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Michael A. Caulfield, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.