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RU_SOC 3325 - Sociology of Food and Nutrition

Google Tips

Parts of Google To Search

The Search Itself

  • Use "quotation marks" to define phrases
  • Use "quotation marks" to enclose the titles of known items you know or suspect to be available on the free internet
  • Use  define: to locate definitions of words.  Sample Google search: define:white paper
  • To look up an expert, type the person's name (again, inquotation marks); if necessary, add the name of the university  where they work, the title of an article they've written, or something else that will give you more information on that person

Evaluating Websites

  • When looking for factual information outside of Wikipedia, always find an "About" page to get an idea of who is providing the information, what they say their purpose and audience is, how their efforts are funded and if there is reason to think they have a strong bias favoring or opposing certain kinds of information
  • When looking at company websites, always remember that a company website is a public relations piece, first and foremost. If information will not work to promote consumer awareness and therefore sales, it will be hidden or absent.
  • Look for dates; make sure the information is reasonably current
  • Realize that Google may mold your search results to you, if you're always on the same physical computer or logged in as the same user on lab computers. If you always click left/right wing political blogs, it will favor search results appearing on those blogs and others like them. 
  • See also the CRAAP Test, below.  Remember, it isn't always that some sites are "good" and some are "craap," it's that sites vary in purpose and audience AND in effectiveness in achieving that purpose, and a few sites may be outright deceptive about their purpose.

Evaluating Information: The CRAAP Test

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of -date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level; not too elementary or too advanced?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determing this is the one you will use use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on this topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? For example: .com (commercial); .edu (educational); .gov (government); .org (organization); .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness,and correctness of the infromation content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supposrted by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?