Begin your search by considering the most credible source for what you're looking for and where you might find it. Consider potential viewpoints and consult a variety of sources. Context matters. For example:
- Seeking advice? Choosing someone to ask who has the "authority" and/or the necessary experience, is a smart information seeking strategy. Consider consulting more than one authoritative source in order to reach an even more intelligent decision.
- Looking for a tutorial on how to use a newly purchased tech tool? Start with the company's website, blog or FAQ page, because they are most likely experts in using a product which they produced.
- Looking for an affordable but respectable hotel? Review a few reputable travel publication and/or consumer opinion driven sites, in addition to the hotel's website for current room rates and photos.
- Wanting the latest news about a local or national issue? Because it has become increasingly difficult to find honest and accurate news reporting, intelligent information consumers must consider the possible "bias" of both the news reporter and the news organization as a whole. Consider issue stakeholders and consult a variety of resources covering the same issue in order to get a well rounded perspective.
Containers: Primary vs. Secondary Sources
- Break down your question until it's answerable.
- By creating a search plan before searching, you'll be saving yourself a lot of work in the long run. See Search Plan Cheat Sheet above.
- Use library databases, curation sites, google scholar, multiple search engines and other Information Resources found on the library website.
- Use Advanced Search.
- Search for the likely title or use keywords. Questions return low quality results.
- Every word matters: delete common terms.
- Order matters: rearrange terms.
- Capitalization doesn't matter
- Use synonyms & discipline specific terminology. Consider What words the author would use.
- Use Google operator site: to limit search to an entire site, domain, country code etc.
- Use quotes around terms sparingly & only when limiting to exact phrase.Before you click on a result, evaluate the URL.
- Review results and adjust your search strategy accordingly.
- More is not better. The goal is to get exactly what you're looking for.
- Refine your results by adding additional keywords:
Longer search string=More results.
- Consider filter bubbles & search engine algorithms: dig deep.
- Use control/command F to find a term(s) on a page
Tools for Refining Keywords
How search Works
How Google Works
Google's aim is to index the entire free web and does not rank its results according to purpose or credibility. In addition, it does not index the hidden web, which includes many of the articles found in pay for databases. Therefore, google is best used for academic purposes when you know exactly what you're looking for, for example a particular organization's website. However, knowing how google works and how to use its advanced search features, will help you become a more effective google user, no matter your information need.
In addition, Google also uses your Search History and Location (IP Adress) to determine rank order of results.
Google Search Tricks
How to Refine Google Searches by Date
How to Search for Publicly Shared Google Docs & Slides