Instructors: Mark Jackson, Reference and Online Resources Librarian; John Hinchcliffe, Reference & Information Literacy Librarian
- Find a book in the Library catalog
- Finding and evaluating Internet resources
- Introduction to the ProQuest database
Exercise: After reviewing how to use our Library Catalog, find a book on a topic provided by the instructor.
Finding and evaluating Internet resources: It is not difficult to Google a few words and find information. There are, however, a few things you need to keep in mind. First, not all information is of excellent quality and suitable for college level writing. Google often returns relevant results but not necessarily excellent results. The challenge is not to find information, but to think critically and analytically about what you find.
What guidelines can you use to evaluate websites? Briefly, they are: Accuracy, Authority, Currency, Objectivity, and Coverage. Cornell University has devoted a site to evaluating websites, available click here.
Now you know what to look for when you find a website that appears to be appropriate. As many of you know, Google will usually return a large number of hits, often over 500,000 on any search. Learning to target your search will not only provide more relevant information, but also information of better quality. Having a sense of where to begin your search is important. For example, the best place for statistical information are government websites. We can limit our Google search to governmental agencies by using this example: diabetes statistics site:.gov
If you are looking for a discussion of a particular issue (pros and cons), such as global warming, we can limit our search to organizations: "global warming" site:.org
Investigating the advanced search feature of Google will give you a sense of how you may tailor your search strategy.
Finally, a well-written research paper will usually need to incorporate material from scholarly publications. These may take the form of research studies (how does a person's face give us subtle visual clues, or how do marketers and advertising use subliminal messages) or an in depth analysis of US-Cuban International Relations. These are studies or articles that have been reviewed by a panel of experts or scholars. After this review, the article is published.
An excellent interdisciplinary source of scholarly publication is the ProQuest database. For the most part, the information that you will find here is NOT available for free on the Internet. There are three basic and simple ways of searching this database. First, you can search by topic. Second, you can use the advanced search. Third, you can search by a publication title.