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Sources 101: Internet Searches

A guide to help navigate and evaluate all web sources and academic information

Why Should we Evaluate Web Sources?

Unlike news and scholarly publications, information on the internet is not regulated or vetted for accuracy or quality. Despite this fact, there are numerous useful and reliable sources online. Therefore, in order to utilize these, it is especially important for researchers to evaluate a web source before using it to support their ideas or inform their opinions. When using web sources, be sure to examine the:

  • Time of publication
  • Connection to your topic/thesis
  • Author and/or publisher of the source
  • Accuracy of information
  • Purpose of its publishing

Although not every single criteria may be applicable to every source, you should evaluate the degree to which the source is reliable or not

Google Advanced Search

Google Advanced Search Tips

Searching the Web

Use the following tips in order to improve and narrow your internet searching:

 

  • Phrase searching: when searching on Google enclose your keywords within a phrase (ex. "Coal and the industrial revolution"). The search engine will only look for those words within that order - this will limit your results

  • File Format searching: by specifying a file type (ex. coal industry + filetype:pdf) you will limit your results to just that file type. Often journals and primary documents will be saved as a certain file type

  • Domain searching: limiting your search results to academic or government sites will yield you more accurate results (ex. Coal industry site:edu)

  • Related searching: If you want to find new websites with similar content to a website you already know of, use the related:somesite.com modifier (ex: related:nyt.com)