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America Through Pictures: A Research Guide: Web Searches

Use the following guide as a reference for your picture projects for Ms. Sepcie and Mr. Bresnan's U.S. History classes.

On this Page...

On this page you will find:

  • Tips on how to make your web searches work for you
  • Criteria on how to evaluate sources that you locate through web searching

Google Advanced Search

Improving your Advanced Searching

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 modifier (ex:

Evaluating Online Sources

Evaluating Sources: The CRAAP Test

Much of the information on the internet is not regulated or vetted. 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:

  • Currencyis the date of publication of the sources time sensitive? Does it inform the content?
  • Relevancy: Is the information in the source related to my topic or thesis? Does it address my research needs?
  • Authority: Who is the person or group writing or editing the content of my source? Are they qualified to write or speak on the subject?
  • Accuracy: Is the content published true? Are other reliable sources documenting the same information? What is the original source/primary source?
  • Purpose: Why is this information being published (i.e. to inform/entertain/provoke/promote)? Is there any inherent bias apparent? Does the publisher have a history of such behavior?

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

Let's evaluate this example...