Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Research Skills: A Blog Series from your ELI Library staff

To Google or Not to Google? And “My professor told us we can’t use Wikipedia.”

Google is your key to all information, right? Google can connect you to anything on the internet, right? Well, not really. There is a lot of information, and some that you might really need, hiding behind passwords in what is called the “deep web.” If you are looking for journal articles, for example, you won’t find most of them by searching Google. Even if you find them using Scholar Google, which searches academic literature, you will often be asked to pay before you can access the article.  Luckily, NOVA Libraries has already paid for access to thousands and thousands of articles and other resources. And often, these resources will have higher quality information that what you can find searching Google.

This is not to discount web sources altogether. Much government information is freely available on the web. And many organizations, such as news organizations and non-profits, put out some great information on the web. Take a look at the 5 W’s to Determine Good Information for ideas on how to evaluate information you find on the web.

And when searching Google, try out their Advanced Search which gives you more control over your search.

What about Wikipedia? The short answer: DO use Wikipedia to get ideas for a research topic or to give yourself some background information on the topic you have chosen. DO NOT use Wikipedia as a source in your research papers and assignments.  Wikipedia should not appear in your Works Cited page. Look for more reliable sources, some of which you could even find in the “References” section at the end of a Wikipedia entry.

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