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ENGL 1102 (Erben)

When to use Google

For a lot of the work you'll do in college, Google might only be the first step; It is a great place to start, because you can find out a lot of useful background and contextual information on your research topic. The farther along you are in your major, the more likely it is that you'll use the information you gather in Google to move on to a library database, where you'll find more resources written by scholars and experts to inform and back up the position you'll take in your research project. 

For this presentation, however, you need to focus on finding things like photos, newspaper and magazine articles, blog articles, etc. For that, Google should be pretty useful. 

But! If you are going to use Google (or another search engine), you might as well use it efficiently! In this tab you'll find information about what kinds of words to use in your search, and things to keep in mind when you decide if a website is worth using. 

Coming up with search terms (Keywords)

Before you search, take a moment to think about what you are looking for. What words are you going to use in your search? This is a step most people skip, but it is something that will help you if you aren't finding the kinds of results you want (or not finding any useful results at all.) 

Below is a video from the University of Houston libraries that discusses thinking about synonyms and related concepts to create good search terms (keywords.) They make a really important point here--the way that you might describe something isn't necessarily how someone else might describe it. Keep that in mind when you search, and don't be afraid to try different words and combinations of words. 

Evaluating Websites

Once you've find a website (a blog, maybe?) that you think you might want to use, take a second and think about it--what makes this a good website? Why do you want to use it? If your answer is "because it was the first thing that came up on my Google results" you should probably dig in a little deeper before you use it in your presentation. 

You need to evaluate each piece of information you use to make sure that it has factual, reliable information. A good tool to use to evaluate information is called the CRAAP test. The video below from Western Libraries walks you through each step of the CRAAP test, but some highlights are: 

Currency-Is the information still current, and relevant? When was it published? For a lot of issues, information can become outdated, and therefore no longer relevant. 

Relevancy-Is the information related to what you are researching? Who was it written for? (If the website was written for children, you probably don't want to use it)

Authority-Think about who the writer or publisher of your website/blog/newspaper etc is. Are they an expert? (Hint: If their name is a screen name like Unicornz4evr, they are probably not an expert.)

Accuracy-Does the author back up their position with facts and verifiable evidence? Do they tell you where they got their information? 

Purpose-Why was this information written? is the author or publisher trying to sell you something? Trying to get you to believe something? Is the information biased?