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Research: Web search tools and strategies

Web Search Strategies

QUT C.R.A.A.P. Test for Evaluating Websites

Check the quality of your websites using these criteria (adapted from QUT Library):

Currency: Timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published, posted or last updated?
  • Is the information current for your topic and field of study? How recent does it have to be? Can older sources work just as well?
Relevance: Importance of the information for your needs
  • Is the information appropriate for a senior secondary course?
  • Is this an adequately in-depth examination or a quick summary of the topic?
  • Who's the intended audience? Is it the general public, a student, a researcher or industry?
  • Is the level of information too basic or too advanced for your needs?

Authority: Source of the information

  • Is the author/authoring body (individual person, or institution, or organisation) established and reputable?
  • Are their qualifications, credentials, expertise, experience, educational background and previous work (if any) relevant and do they add credibility to the source?
  • Has the piece been published by a well-known and respected publisher or organisation?
  • Do references to other sources support the writing ie is a Bibliography or Reference List provided?

Accuracy: Reliability and correctness of the information

  • Where does the information come from, and is it supported by evidence?
  • Does it have a Reference List or Bibliography so you can easily find and verify the sources used?
  • Are there any spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: Reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? Why was it written?
  • Does the point of view appear objective, unbiased and impartial?
  • Is the viewpoint of the author's affiliation/ sponsors reflected in the message or content?
  • Does the author acknowledge alternative versions of the issues or facts?

Advanced Google Web Searching

Google Advanced search techniques

1. You can complete an advanced search in Google Advanced Search, which helps narrow or refine your search for better, more specific results.

2.  Narrow your results to one particular domain type, by adding site: and a domain name to your search terms.

  • Looking for an educational site -  genetic engineering site:edu
  • Looking for a government site - genetic engineering site:gov
  • To restrict your search to Australian websites, add '.au' -  genetic engineering site:edu.au

3 letter Domain names

  • gov - Government 
  • go -  some countries such as Indonesia use .go only
  • edu - Educational 
  • org - Organizations (nonprofit)
  • mil -  Military
  • com - commercial
  • net - Network organizations

2 letter Domain names for country of origin
 

  • au - Australia
  • uk - United Kingdom
  • cn - China
  • in - India
  • id - Indonesia

A complete list can be found on the CIA World Factbook

3. Use 'Ctrl F' (Control + Find) to search for particular terms easily in a long document, whether from a website or a database article.

4. Use a Google command to limit results to the MOST RECENT: After you get your results, choose the Google Menu Bar, and choose 'Tools'. Then on the far left, at the drop-down menu next to 'Any Time', .you can choose 'Within the last year' (or less, if you prefer), but generally, you can choose 'Custom Range' at the bottom, as often the last 3 to 5 years would be sufficient for a recent search.

5. Use Boolean searching

  • Use double inverted commas ("...") to enclose a phrase eg "plastic pollution". This command forces Google to return results where these 2 words are exactly side by side.
  • Use AND to limit your results: A search for this phrase - Australian AND Indonesian "plastic pollution" will force Google to return results where both Australian and Indonesian plastic pollution is mentioned in the same article.
  • Use NOT to limit your results (in a different way): A search for this - "plastic pollution" NOT marine - will force Google to return results about plastic pollution which do not include anything related to the ocean.
  • Use OR to expand your results: A search for this - global OR worldwide "plastic pollution" - will force Google to return results for global as well as its synonym worldwide.
  • Use filetype:pdf to search in Google for only pdf articles - "plastic pollution" filetype:pdf - will force Google to return results on plastic pollution which are only pdf articles (PDFs are great sources sometimes deeply buried in Google results and remain unseen).