WR 222 with Liz Smith: Advanced Google Searching
Advanced Google Searching
Google's advanced search lets you limit your search to more reliable resources, like education sites or government sites. To do this, add site:edu or site:gov to your regular Google search.
- If you do an ordinary Google search for nutritional supplements, most of your top results will be commercial (.com) sites trying to sell you vitamins.
- If you search for nutritional supplements site:gov , the top results (except for the sponsored ads) will be sites such as the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, which are authoritative, unbiased sources that are not trying to sell you anything.
- If you search for nutritional supplements site:edu, your top results will be from universities providing research on nutritional supplements.
Learn more Google Search tips from "6 Google Tricks That Will Turn You Into an Internet Detective" in the New York Times.
Evaluating Sources: Questions to Ask
How do you know if a source is right for your research? Below are some questions you can ask about your sources. There are no good or bad sources, but sources can be useful or not useful based on the evidence you're looking for.
- Who is the author? What do you know about the author’s background? (hint: Google the author). What makes the author an expert on this particular topic (remember that experience and research are markers of expertise as well as education)?
- What journal, magazine, organization, or website published this information? Look for an "about" page on the publisher's website (or explore their website) and also Google the name of the publication/organization/website (or look for a Wikipedia page about it) to learn more about the publisher of the information. What kind of reputation does it have? What is their purpose in sharing this information? Is it known for promoting specific points of view?
Can you tell where the information in the article came from? Do they share any information from other sources or does it seem like they’re sharing their opinion? If they used other sources, do those sources seem worth trusting?
Based on your answers to these questions, would you trust this source? If not, could anything from this article still be useful? Often articles link to other useful resources or mention other authors and studies that could be helpful.
You may not get good answers from all of these questions, but still trust a source. For example, an opinion piece from a noted expert in a specific field could be a useful source, but chances are, they are not going to be citing sources. Information from the Centers for Disease Control website is trustworthy, but much of it doesn't have an author. You have to weigh each of these factors when making your decision.
Policy & research institutes
Policy and research institutes conduct and publish credible research, often including polls, and advocacy on social, political, cultural or economic issues. While most policy and research institutes are non-profit organizations, some have a political or ideological slant.
Find Articles with Google Scholar
Before searching, be sure to set PCC as your library in your browser by:
- Visiting the link to set "Library Links" settings for Google Scholar,
- using the search box to search for "Portland Community College",
- checking the check box that appears underneath the search to select “Portland Community College – Find it @ PCC”,
- and then selecting the Save button.
This will ensure that when you search Google Scholar in your browser, you will see Find It @ PCC links to full text if we have the article (Google Scholar sometimes also provides links to other free sources for full text).
You can learn more about setting Google Scholar preferences on the PCC Library Website.
Evaluating Sources on the Web
On the web, it can be difficult to tell what type of source you’re looking at and whether or not it’s something that would provide quality evidence for your assignment. This video will help you look more critically at your own search results.