Now that you know how to search the internet with Google like a pro, let’s take a look at evaluating your search results, and the sources that you’ve found.
Evaluating the Source
So youâ€™ve found the information that youâ€™ve been looking for, but how do you know if it is from a reliable source? Anyone can post anything on the web, so how can you judge the accuracy of the information you find?
Web Pages to Avoid
Spam Pages. Spam pages are pages placed by sites that are deceptive in nature. They contain keywords intended to fool Google and essentially exist for the sole purpose of displaying advertisements. Google weeds out most of these, but sometimes one gets through. Fortunately, you can report it to Google at www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html so that they can eliminate it from their search results.
Commecial Pages. These types of sites are obviously trying to sell you something, which is good if you are looking to buy something, but not good if you are trying to find reliable, unbiased information. These types of websites are typically not helpful to researchers unless you are looking to buy something or are looking for product information.
Logon Pages. These sites contain logon pages, which usually means you have to subscribe to the site in order to view the information. Subscriptions may just require you to fill out a form and provide personal information, or they may cost you money. Unless this is your last resort, donâ€™t waste the time. You can always come back later. These pages can be identified by those asking for usernames and passwords.
Error Pages. These pages usually contain the word â€œErrorâ€ somewhere in the snippet and on the page and usually describe the type of error. Thereâ€™s nothing useful to you here, so if you see â€œerrorâ€ donâ€™t go there.
Page Moved Pages. These usually contain the words â€œpage movedâ€, â€œsite movedâ€, â€œredirectâ€ or â€œredirectingâ€. Often times this means that the web page no longer exists and you are being forwarded to the main page of the site.
How to Evaluate Resources:
(AAOCC Guidelines Source: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ENGI/eval_criteria.html)
Many websites exist simply to get you to buy into their point of view and disseminate inaccurate information. Although Googleâ€™s PageRank system does provide you with good results, it is still up to you as the user to determine the quality of the information.
In determining the quality of the information, following the AAOCC (authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage) guidelines laid out by the University of California Berkley and ask these questions of the website:
- Who are the authors? Are they qualified? Are they credible?
- With whom are they affiliated? Do their affiliations affect their credibility?
- Who is the publisher? What is the publisherâ€™s reputation?
- Is the information accurate? Is it reliable and error-free?
- Are the interpretations and implications reasonable?
- Is there evidence to support conclusions? Is the evidence verifiable?
- Do the authors properly list their sources, references or citations with dates, page numbers or web addresses, etc.?
- What is the purpose? What do the authors want to accomplish?
- Does this purpose affect the presentation?
- Is there an implicit or explicit bias?
- Is the information fact, opinion, spoof, or satirical?
- Is the information current? Is it still valid?
- When was the site last updated?
- Is the site well-maintained? Are there any broken links?
- Is the information relevant to your topic and assignment?
- What is the intended audience?
- Is the material presented at an appropriate level?
- Is the information complete? Is it unique?