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Information Resources for AOE Students: Research on the Web

The purpose of this guide is to introduce CPS students to navigation of Lightner Library resources and to provide research tutorials.

Using the Web for Research

The web can be useful for academic research in specific cases.

  • It can be useful to get background information - to help you gain a better understanding of your topic
    • Keep in mind that it may not be appropriate to cite some web sources, especially Wikipedia. You can use these sources to get background information, but then we recommend that you use that knowledge to find more credible, reputable sources to cite in your paper.
  • You may be able to find some newspaper and magazine articles available online for free.
  • There are also reputable websites that are trustworthy (.edu, .org, and .gov websites tend to be more credible)
  • You may be able to find primary sources written or created by someone you are researching (blogs, op-eds, interviews, etc)

Ask your instructor whether or not they will allow you to use web sources in your research paper. Some instructors prefer that you focus on sources found within the library or its databases.

Using Wikipedia

A Google search will often give you Wikipedia as your first hit. Wikipedia is similar to a general encyclopedia such as World Book and is a great resource for finding background information on a topic.

Many instructors prefer that you do not cite Wikipedia as a source, but you can still read Wikipedia entries to get a better understanding of your topic. 

Furthermore, many Wikipedia entries contain references at the bottom of the page, which can sometimes lead you to better, more credible sources, which you can use in your References or Works Cited.

Search Wikipedia:

Evaluating Websites

 Almost anyone can publish their own web page, so it is important to critically evaluate the sources you find on the web. The CRAAP Test (linked below) can help.

Google Searching Tips & Tricks

  • Search for phrases using quotation marks - this ensures that both words will appear together, and in that order.

Example: "Jim Davis"

  • Use + and - to make sure words are included or omitted

Example: salsa recipe -tomatoes

  • Search for two words that are within three words of each other using AROUND(3)
  • Use "site:" to search within a specific website.

Example: degree programs

Example: Try entering .org or .edu into the "site or domain" field.


Links for Further Strategies:

Google's Tips & Tricks for Searching's How to Search the Web Faster, Easier, and More Efficiently

Lifehacker's Top Ten Clever Google Search Tricks

AOE Librarian

April Higgins's picture
April Higgins
(315) 279-5411