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How to Search for Sources and Manage Them

How to develop a search strategy

Evaluate the Results

© Photo by Tumiso, pixabay license

Before using the information found, you have to assess its quality and relevancy:

Accuracy        

  • Is the information reliable?
  • Is the information based on proven facts or statistical data?
  • Are there references (e.g., citations, footnotes, or a bibliography)?
  • Is the information error-free (punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors)?

Authority       

  • Who is the author?
  • What are the qualifications of the author?
  • Is the author affiliated with a reputable university or organisation?
  • Is the source peer-reviewed or refereed?
  • Who is the publisher?

Objectivity     

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Is the information biased?
  • Does the information include advertising?

Currency        

  • When was the information published?
  • Is the information current or outdated?
  • Does currency matter on this topic?

Coverage        

  • Does the information covered meet your information needs?
  • Does the information appear to be complete and comprehensive?
  • Is the source considered popular or scholarly?
  • Is the information cited?
  • Is it free, or is there a fee to obtain the information?

What About Google?

Be aware that Google use algorithms (PageRank) to filter, or tailor, the search results, based on previous searches you have done – the sites you have viewed, what you clicked on and other data that can be gathered from your browser. So the exact same search, using exactly the same search words, can return different results for different individuals.

Get further:

Pariser, Eli. "Beware online filter bubbles." Filmed February 2011 in Stockholm, Sweden. TED video, 8:47.
https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles