Welcome. We all know to some degree how to look for information, but for 95% of the population information-seeking ends up being whatever you can find on the first page of a Google result search. We can do better than that and I’m here today to teach you some tricks on how to conduct research more effectively and to find better resources for your papers and assignments.
I am a librarian at the University of Utah. I am also a good friend of Lenore’s so when she needs a librarian on three days notice I’m the first person she calls.
Research is one of the most important skills to learn in college. Everyone researches. That’s how we find information. The truth is that you will forget many of the things that you learn in college. But knowing how to find things later when you need them, learning how to distinguish good information from bad information is a skill you can use the rest of your life. It’s a huge part of becoming an educated, informed person.
How many of you have used the library here? What kinds of things do you do there?
Who is brave enough to tell me what your assignment is for this class?
When you start your research you want to start with a strategy. Where is a likely place to find information? There is often a logical starting place.
The point here is that the information landscape is a lot more complicated than a Google search and you want to try to be strategic about where you are looking.
Do Wikipedia search for Ebola and show how it links to World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control
Don’t let your research end with Wikipedia unless you only need a really cursory understanding of a subject
World Health Organization Center for Disease Control PLOS Current Outbreaks The New York Times
Take a break to ask the students where they search for information
If your kid is sick and you can’t get a hold of the doctor, where do you look? If you want to learn more about a political candidate, what do you do?
There is a world of information beyond Google.
Not all information is created equal. Not all information is valid, useful, or accurate.
I get an email every few days from my mother-in-law with some conspiracy theory or end of the world message usually about President Obama. Now what bothers me isn’t necessarily Snopes.com
The temptation is to accept whatever you find in a Google search but don’t go down that path. Presumably you’re all here to become educated, informed people and one of the hallmarks of an educated person is learning how to evaluate information.
Tips and Tricks Search terms – capitalizations and misspellings don’t matter; Google doesn’t register words like a or the
Search engines ignore punctuation, capitalization, and most misspellings
Only a fraction of information is on the Internet and crawled by search engines Free access to what people and companies have made available to the public. No one polices the web. Seach engines give millions of results Publishers won’t give free access to copyrighted content. Databases provide thousands of relevant articles not freely available on the web. Chosen because they are written by credible authors from reliable sources. Search within a discipline. Formatted citations are often available. Better information; less time searching Search from home just like you do with Search engines.
Life After Google: How to conduct scholarly research
Life After Google: how to
conduct scholarly research
Salt Lake Community College
Overview of today
• Research – where to begin?
• Evaluating Sources of Information
• How to Search the Web
• Databases – Your new best friend
• How to cite your sources
Research: The activity of getting
information about a subject
Where to begin?
• What kind of information are you looking
–Facts? Opinions on controversial subjects?
–What do you need to support whatever it is
that you are trying to say?
Current events? The New York Times
Demographics/ statistics on the US population?
Census data/ http://www.data.gov/
Local history? A county library or local newspaper
archive might be a good place to start
Commercial products? The company website or
Where would be a likely place to look for what
Applying the CRAAP Test
Currency: Is it timely?
Relevance: Is it important for your needs?
Authority: Who says?
Accuracy: Is it reliable and correct?
Purpose: Why was it written?
“Every time we let ourselves believe for
unworthy reasons we weaken our powers of
self-control, of doubting, of judiciously and fairly
weighing evidence… The danger to society is not
merely that is should believe wrong things,
though that is great enough, but that it should
become credulous , and lose the habit of testing
things and inquiring into them; for then it must
sink back into savagery.”
- William Clifford, The Ethics of Belief
Searching the web
• How search engines work
• Robots crawl freely available content
• Can only search webpages, not databases
• Anyone can post anything online – no formal
• Millions of results – some good, some bad
Be a better Googler
• Select your search terms carefully
• Use Boolean operators (AND, NOT, OR)
– eagles NOT Philadelphia
– Apple AND computer
– Sudden Infant Death Syndrome OR SIDS
– Small Pools NOT whales
Be a better Googler – part deux
• Use quotation marks for an exact phrase
– “to be or not to be”
• Use * for truncated words
– adoles* to find adolescent, adolescents, or
• Search within a specific site
– Gun control site:nytimes.com
Databases vs. The Web
• The “Invisible Web”
• Copyrighted content not freely available on the web
• Thousands of relevant, scholarly articles written by
credible authors from reliable sources.
• Formatted citations are often available.
• Better information; less time searching
• Can search from anywhere with a username and
• Salt Lake Community College Library:
• Log in with your SLCC student ID and Pin #
We are going to look at three today
• Academic Search Premier (EBSCO)
• ProQuest Newsstand
• Sirs Researcher
Works cited: things to think about
• How many sources do you need?
• Citation style?
• Do you have a variety of sources?
• Do your sources represent different points of
• Do they pass the CRAAP test?
Tools to help
Prepare to be amazed…
• In my day:
• Now: https://www.zotero.org/