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Information Literacy

How to find and use information effectively

Evaluating

Evaluating is all about determining and assessing the quality of the information you find.

Most students get their print resources from the Library, and their online and audio-visual resources from both the Library (*paid resources) and the world wide web (free resources).   Here in the Library it's our responsibility to ensure that all of the resources and materials we provide are high quality, meaning that they are credible, accurate, up-to-date and relevant and there are no issues of authenticity or bias.  But how can you make sure that the free information you find online is of a similar high quality? 

Here are our top tips:

  • Look for sites from trusted institutions or organisations (.ac.uk, .gov.uk and .org.uk sites for example). If you're lucky these might signpost you to other trusted sites.
  • Look for sites that are regularly updated with new content and where authors are clearly attributed.
  • Try to avoid commercial sites (.com, .co.uk or .biz) as these are generally for-profit and could show bias.
  • If the site looks amateurish, the content is anonymous and lots of the links don't work, steer clear!

Check out this 6-minute video from the Library Service at Cardiff University about evaluating online information.

* By 'paid resources' we mean online resources for which the Library pays a subscription; most of the resources on our A-Z Databases site fall into this category.

Google Scholar, Google and Wikipedia

Google Scholar
For advice about Google Scholar watch this 9-minute video entitled How to Search for (and Read) Academic Papers through Google Scholar by staff at Northwest Prep Charter School in California.  The video mentions that if there is no pdf link to a paper it's usually because there is a charge to view it.  However, this is not always the case.  Google Scholar has no way of telling if our Library has paid for access to a particular journal or not, meaning that something you can't access in Google Scholar could be easily accessed via WorldCat.  For this reason you should always start your research on WorldCat or our A-Z Databases site.

Google
In this 3-minute video, from the Library at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, Sue asks Why Can't I Just Google? and this 4-minute video by librarians from the Library Service at the University of Cardiff provide some Top Tips On Searching Google.

This resource sheet gives you advice on how to make the most of your Google searching.

Wikipedia
This 6-minute video called Wikipedia: Beneath the Surface, by librarians at North Carolina State University, gives a really good overview of how Wikipedia works.