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Social Work: A Research Guide

Google -- how and when

Google searching: Waaaaaay too many results.   

With Google, the issue is not generally too few results, but way too many results and none of them is exactly what you want.   Move beyond Wikipedia by:

  • Using the Advanced search option (located at the bottom of the results page of a Google search)  to fine tune search results. 
  • Combining your search terms in a meaningful way -- use "phrase searching"
  • Searching  within a site or domain (.edu, .gov., .org)  to further limit results.    For instance, .gov for federal information
  • Indicating where your keywords show up -- for instance, in the title of the page. 

And remember, evaluate, evaluate, evaluate - be a critical consumer .

Google Scholar

  • Use the Advanced search option  (located under the pulldown arrow on the righthand side of the Google Scholar search box) to fine tune search results
  • Pay close attention to date of publication  -- much older material
  • Use the "cited in " link to lead to other articles
  • Don't purchase articles -- search the journal title in Etowns Journal Finder or order it on ILLiad Interlibrary Loan

 Google books:

Google news:

  • Use the Advanced search option   (located at the bottom of the results page of a Google News search) to fine tune search results
  • Limit by country, news source and date.
  • See most recent items first



Evaluating Web Sites

The good, the bad, and the ugly -- choosing the right websites.

Care must be taken in searching for information on the Internet. Unlike both the print resourcesand databases provided by the library, free Internet resources have not necessarily been published by reputable academic publishers. Anything can be posted on a website, and just because it is available online does not mean it is valid or authoritative.

However, this does not mean that you cannot find good resources on the Internet; the key to doing so is to carefully evaluate what you find on the web. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is the author of this material? Are the author's credentials listed?
  • What institution or organization sponsored the material?
  • When was the Web site created or last updated?
  • Where is the publisher located?  Does it exist in the physical world?
  • Why was the information published? 
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information provided objective or biased?
  • How does information provided by the site compare to other works, including print works?

For further information on Web evaluation, check out: