Text-Only version of Doing Research: The Internet for College Students


Welcome to Texas Woman's University's The Internet for College Students.

Getting Started

The key for finding information on the internet is to be a good searcher. By the end of this training, you will be able to use the internet to: choose the best resources for your search, develop a search strategy, search for books, journals, and newspapers, explore social media, locate different types and formats of sources for information, and evaluate your search results.

Let's get started. Click Next to continue.

Use the Internet for Research

Today, the Internet has become an essential part of researching a topic.
Why should you use the Internet for research?
The Internet offers:
A large collection of information on almost any topic.
Multiple perspectives on a single topic. With the Internet, you can quickly search a topic and get results from all over the world.
The Internet also offers many resources for finding background information on any topic, even people.
It is a valuable tool for learning because it offers easy access to downloadable software, online videos, and social networking.
You can also use the Internet to read and share opinions.
And to access online versions of books, journals, and newspapers.
Click Next to continue.

Choose the Best Resources

The resources you use for your search depend on the information you need. Roll over each person to find out what each one needs. Once you’ve identified their needs, click each person to learn which resources best fits their search needs.

Person 1 – I need travel information.
Use the Internet! Not only will your search include results about the destination, but you can also book your trip, get maps, and review travel brochures.

Person 2 – I need a journal article.
Use the internet! While you can find articles with general Internet searches, you will also get a lot of irrelevant results. Search tools like Google Scholar or online databases that index journals may give you better results. These tools are particularly helpful for indentifying scholarly journal articles.

Person 3 – I need facts and figures.
Use the internet! Use an online almanac or government site. These are great sources for statistics and credible facts and figures.

Person 4 – I need to read a book.
Use the Internet! Many books are now available in electronic format.

Person 5 – I need to find the definition of a word.
Use the internet! Use an online dictionary or try typing define: and the word you are looking for in Google.

Person 6 – I need information about a specific product.
Use the Internet! With a web search, you can find official product pages. Many sites now list reviews from customers or third-parties. What’s more, you can now interact with many companies on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

Person 7 – I need to find opinions on a topic.
Use the Internet! Blogs, discussion boards, forums, and social networks provide many opinions and colorful conversations.

Click Next to continue.

Choose the Right Search Terms

What if your search term is too broad and results in too many hits? Let's say you were interested in heart health. Which terms will give you the most manageable number of results? Here are some things to think about when searching:

Can you refine your search?
Which search terms could you use instead? Instead of only searching "heart", narrow your search by using "heart health" or "heart disease".
Can you think of unique words, distinctive names, acronyms or abbreviations associated with the subject? Try changing your search terms to circulatory system, cardiovascular, EKG, or CT scan.
Do you know of any societies, organizations, or groups dedicated to the topic? Many groups have websites with research related to the topic. For your search, try sites like the American Heart Association or the American Medical Association.
Remember, every word counts. Generally, all the words you enter will be a part of the search query.

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Choose the Right Search Terms

You can use tools like quotation marks, plus/minus limiters, and the word OR to refine your search. Click each limiter to learn more.

Text on Screen:
Quotations tell the search engine to search for results with a specific combination of words as a phrase.
Plus and minus are used to signify that a term must appear (+) or must not appear (-) in your search results.
OR increases your search results. When you join words with OR, the search engine returns results with either of the words present.

Click next to continue.

Limit Your Search

What options do you have to limit your search? Many search engines offer advanced features that allow you to refine your search results by choosing a language, setting time frames, specifying file formats, selecting domains, and more. Roll over the options below to learn more.

Text on Screen:
Options to limit your search:
Language: Limit your results to a specific language.
File Type: Specify which file format to search, such as .pdf, .doc., .ppt
Site or domain: Search within a site a domain such as .gov (government produced research information), .edu (educational institutions), and .org (organization and publication information).
Date: Restrict your results to a particular time frame.

Click next to continue.

Perform a Search

Roll over the options below for common options available for refining your search. Keep in mind, the fields may differ among the various search engines.

Text on Screen:
Field: all these words
How it Works: Ranks results by relevancy. Results with every word listed in your search appear first. Works like the plus symbol.

Field: this exact wording or phrase
How it Works: Searches for results with a specific combination of words as a phrase. Works like quotation marks.

Field: one or more of these words
How it works: Results will include at least one of the search terms. Works like OR.

Field: But don't show any pages that have....any of these unwanted words.
How it works: Results that appear first will include your search terms but not the terms in this field. Works like the minus symbol.

Now it’s your turn to search. Click Next to view the guided simulation.

Perform a Search
Google Advanced Search Screen.
Text on Screen:
In this example, you want to search the Internet for information on recent trends in distance education. You are also interested in the newest innovations and technologies associated with distance education. You are not interested in registering for a class. Begin entering your search criteria.

Click Advanced Search.
Click this exact wording or phrase field and type distance education. Then, press the Tab key.
Tip! The advanced search features vary among search engines.
Click the first one or more of these words field and type technology. Then, press the Tab key.
Click the second one or more of these words field and type innovation. Then, press the Tab key.
Click the any of these unwanted words field and type admissions register registration enroll. Then, press the Tab key.
Scroll down.
Click results per page drop down menu.
Click 20 results.
Click Advanced Search
Google displays your search results.
Tip! You can begin evaluating the search results before you go to the website by looking at information like publish dates, authors, domains, and file formats.
Click Thirty-two Trends Affecting Distance Education
The search result shows. Since this article appears to be the work of professors at well-known universities, it might contain material you can use in your research.
Congratulations! You have completed the simulation. Click Next to continue.

Test Your Knowledge (Question 1)
You are writing a paper about Sarah Ragle Weddington. She is believed to be the youngest person to ever win a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. She teaches women's leadership classes and has fought for women's rights for many years. Select the search statement that will retrieve the most relevant websites.
A. Sarah Weddington OR Supreme Court
B. +"Sarah Weddington" + "Supreme Court"
C. Sarah Ragle ^teacher
D. "women's leadership and advocates"

The correct answer is B: +"Sarah Weddington" +"Supreme Court"
Click next to continue.

Test Your Knowledge (Question 2)
A college student should not use the Internet to find which of the following?

A. Statistics and health information.
B. Background information for your research paper.
C. Tickets for Spring Break.
D. Pre-written English papers.

The correct answer is D. Pre-written English papers.
Click next to continue.

Searching for Scholarly Material

Now that you understand the basics of searching, use that knowledge to find more scholarly material. General Web searches allow you to cast a wide net for results. Use scholarly search tools or web sites to obtain more selective data.

Click next to continue.

Try It: Search for Books, Journals, and Newspapers

The Internet is a great place to find books, journals, and newspapers.
Sites like Project Gutenberg, the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or the Directory of Open Access Journals or DOAJ, an online source for scholarly journals, can be valuable tools in your research.
When you search for books or journal articles, websites may ask you to purchase the materials. Before you purchase the materials, check the online catalog. Libraries purchase thousands of resources for TWU students. Don’t pay twice.

Click next to view a guided simulation.

Perform a Search

Text on Screen:
You need to read a few items for your classes - a copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, an article about stem cell research, and a newspaper article on the economy. In this exercise, you will use online sources to locate these items. Let's begin by searching for Pride and Prejudice on the Project Gutenberg site.
Click in the Author field and type: Jane Austen. Then, click Go.
Click Pride and Prejudice.
The Bibliographic Record for the selection displays, as well as download options.
Scroll down.
Click the link for the PDF file.
You can now read a full version of Pride and Prejudice. Click here to continue.

Next, you need to find an article on stem cell research and ethics (this search takes place on the Directory of Open Access Journals site).
Click in the first search field and type: stem cell research. Then, press the Tab key.
Next, type ethics. Then, click Search articles.
Your result list includes the article - Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Justice, and the Problem of Unequal Biological Access. Click Fulltext.
You found a full-text article. Click here to continue.

Finally, you will search for newspaper articles about the economy (this search takes place on the Google News site). Click in the search field and type economy. Then, click Search News. Google news displays a list of newspaper articles pertaining to the economy.
Click Dollar Rises to Two-Month High on Signs Economy Strengthening. Congratulations! You have completed the simulation. Click next to continue.

Explore Social Media

Social media is the newest frontier in Internet research. With sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, individuals and organizations can quickly share information with the world.
How can you use social media for research?
Blogs, forums, and social network websites provide many opinions on a variety of topics.
Never before have people had so much access to the opinions of others, from doctors to politicians and writers to entertainers. Today, you can see an interview about the university's gymnastics team on the news. Then, you can go online and see extended footage on sites like YouTube, connect to the team with Facebook or Twitter, read opinions from others, and see how the public is reacting. Information is immediate.
While the amount of information available via social media is enormous, it is important to evaluate the reliability and accuracy of these resources when using them for your research.

Text on Screen:
Why use social media?
-Immediate access

Click next to continue.

Test Your Knowledge (Question 1)

Using the right tool can be key to finding the best results. Which search tools generate primarily scholarly results and which will give you more general results? Drag the search tool to the correct type of results.
Options available are: WorldCat, bing, Scirus, Google Scholar, Yahoo!, and PubMed.gov. Tools that will give you primarily general results are bing and Yahoo! Tools that will give you primarily scholarly results are WorldCat, Scirus, Google Scholar, and Pubmed.gov.

Click next to continue.

Test Your Knowledge (Question 2):
Which of the following is not a reason to use social media for Internet research?
A. Many opinions.
B. Ability to interact with others.
C. 100% reliability of all content.
D. Access to the newest information.

The correct answer is C. 100% reliability of all content.
Click next to continue.

Conduct Better Searches

In this section, you will learn how to evaluate your search results.
When searching the Internet, keep a few things in mind:
Do not take assume everything you find on the Internet as is an undisputed fact. Sites like Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, so think critically when determining the accuracy of the web page.
The first site may not be the best. You may have to perform several searches to find the best information for your research.
Evaluate coverage, quality, currency, objectivity, and organization of web sites to determine if the pages meet your research needs. On the next screen, you will learn more about evaluating your search results.

Click next to continue.

Evaluate Results

As you review your search results, evaluate them. While a site may appear to be relevant to your topic, upon closer scrutiny, it may not be the best choice for your research. Below are the criteria you should use to evaluate your results. Click each criteria to learn the questions you need to ask yourself.

Criteria: Coverage
Questions to Ask:
What is the scope of the resource?
Does the website cover all aspects of the topic?

Criteria: Quality and Reliability
Questions to Ask:
Is the author a well known or well-regarded authority?
How reputable is the publisher or website?
Does the author list his or her credentials?
Is the author’s email address provided?
Is the purpose of the website apparent?
Is the material scholarly?
If the material is available in both print and web formats, does coverage differ between versions?
How comprehensive is the coverage of the material?
How reliable and free from error is the information?
Is supporting material included and correctly attributed?
Does the material include a bibliography?
Is the content fact or opinion?
Are working links to relevant information provided?

Criteria: Currency
Questions to Ask
When was the material published?
Does the material present the latest thinking on the topic?
Is the last update prominently noted?

Criteria: Objectivity
Questions to Ask
Is the information well balanced or biased?

Criteria: Organization and ease of use
Questions to Ask
Does the organization of the material make sense?
Are ideas presented logically and stated clearly?
Is the material easily accessible?
Do pages load quickly?
Is the website easy to navigate?
Do all the links work?

Click next to continue.

Test your Knowledge (Question 1):
Examine the City of Denton site and select the elements that indicate the information is reliable. When finished, click next to continue.
Contact Information
Author/Creator Credility
Site navigation or organization

For contact information, the correct answer is clicking on the "Contact Us" URL on the page.
For URL, the correct answer is clicking on the website address in the browser.
For author/creator credibility, the correct answer is clicking on the City of Denton image on the page.
For site navigation or organization, the correct answer is clicking on one of the three menus on the page.

Each website you visit serves a special purpose. Take a look below and decide the purpose of this website.

What is the purpose of the City of Denton website?
A. To inform.
B. To persuade.
C. To entertain.
D. None of the above.

The correct answer is A. To inform.

Click next to continue.

Congratulations! You have completed The Internet for College Students training.
In this training, you learned to…
Choose the best resources
Develop a search strategy
Search for books, journals, and newspapers
Explore social media
Identify different types and formats of sources for information
Evaluate your results

Click the “Take the Quiz” link to test your knowledge. Good luck!
Link to the quiz: http://www.twu.edu/library/tutorial/postTest4.aspx