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Current Events: Searching the Web

Google Search

Evaluating Web Sites

Always check with your instructor before including resources from the Web in your research project. He or she will want to know that you have properly evaluted any information that you may use. You must determine on your own whether it is reliable and relevant to your research.

Contact a librarian (below) for help determining if a website is reliable or not.

Searching Tips

We all know how to search Google (left). But here are a few extra tricks for finding reliable, unbiased, and up-to-the-minute information when you search the Web.

  • Don't phrase your search as a question. Typing "presidential candidates 2012" will get you more reliable results than "Who is running for president?" The more casual language you use in your search, the more informal (and less reliable) results you will get.
  • Use only a few important search terms. Include only the most important words when you search; aim for three to five search terms. This will help retrieve on-topic results; the more words used, the more room there exists for error. e.g., "Planned Parenthood leadership change" rather than "planned parenthood leaders resigned new leaders hired".
  • Watch out for bias. When you're researching a hot topic that's being debated in the media, it's easy to get caught up in biased rhetoric used by opposing sides of the issue. Make your search terms as neutral as possible. e.g., "Obamacare religious freedom" will get you very different results from "Obama healthcare contraceptives," which will vary drastically from "Affordable Care Act women's rights." It's okay to search all three to get perspectives from all sides. Just be aware of how the language you use affects the sources you retrieve.
  • Try Google News. To narrow your results down to the most recent published information on your topic, click on "News" at the top of the Google homepage, or search directly from http://www.google.com/news. You can even set up news alerts so that you'll be notified when your topic of interest shows up in the day's news. Sign up for alerts here -- under "Result Type," select News.