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Library Orientation Assignment: 6. Finding Information on the Internet

This purpose of this guide is to provide new students with an orientation to the University of The Bahamas Libraries. Please contact your instructor for the written assignment that accompanies this guide.

Introduction to Internet Searching

While the University Libraries provide many resources for finding information, the World Wide Web also provides a lot of information and should not be disregarded. However, it is importance that you analyze website to determine if their content is of a good quality and relevant to your needs.

Tips for Using Search Engines

When using online search engines, here are some tip that you should consider

Use more than one search engine - Each search engine uses different algorithms for performing searches and ranking results. Therefore using different search engines will show you different results.

Use Advanced Search Options - Each search engine has some sort of advance searching feature. These will allow you to do things such as; combine search terms, search as a phrase, limited publication date ranges and to apply different filters. These will help you to get a more relevant results list.

Use longer keyword phrases - This will make your searching more precise.

Use quotation marks - This will tell the search engine to search for the words as a phrase.

Use the minus (-) function to narrow your search results. If you use a search term which has multiple meanings you can use the minus function to eliminate the results that you don't want

Analyzing Websites

Information on the internet varies in quality. Therefore you must analyze websites in order to determine if the information is credible and useful for your needs. Here are some things to look for when analyzing a website;

  • What is the source of the information? it is important that you establish where the information is coming from. Then you can determine if the person or entity responsible for the website has the authority (i.e. knowledge and/or experience) to address any chosen subject. This information should be easily available in an About us section
  • When is the last time that this website was updated? It is important to know if the website you are looking at is providing you with the most current information or not. Information from a past time period isn't necessarily bad, you just need to know when the information that you are looking at was published.
  • Website Domains - .gov are government websites and .edu are websites from educational institutions. These usually provide the best information
  • The purpose of a website - Why was this website produced? Does the purpose of the website match your purpose for using information. Be wary of sites seeking to sell a product or service. They might not give you the best information for academic research.
  • Relevance - Does the website that you are looking at actually meet your needs? Does it answer your question? Is the intended audience suitable for what you want to accomplish? Check a few websites before deciding which one(s) are best.