Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why can't I just Google it?

When you start to look for information on a topic, where do you start? Google? Many students do.
Google is a great place to start and you will find a lot of useful information there. But finding information using Google has some limitations

The pros of using Google are:
·         Finding information is quick and easy.
·         Easy access to non-text sources such as measurement data, images and video.
·         Information about people, places and history is readily available.
·         Iinformation can be updated almost immediately.

The cons of using Google are:
·         It may be difficult to know if the information is out of date or biased.
·         Virtually anyone can put material on the Web so information may be inaccurate or biased.
·         Because there is often so much information; it can be hard to identify the most relevant sources.
·         Information needs to be carefully analyzed to make sure it comes from a reliable source

What else should I use?
It is OK to use Google to find background or general information. But for scholarly research you need to find accurate information on your topic from a variety of sources.

What is scholarly information?
Scholarly information is in-depth, accurate, well researched and written by academics and researchers. Scholarly information is found in sources such as books and journals. Some scholarly information, such as journal articles, may have gone through a peer-review process.  

What is peer-reviewed’?
Articles published in peer-reviewed (or refereed) journals have been through a formal approval process. This means that an editor and subject specialists have reviewed the article before it has been accepted for publication. This guarantees the quality of the research.

Key points to remember are:
Google and other web search engines have their good points and its limitations for academic research.
You can use Google, but you should also search the library catalogue and databases for scholarly and non-scholarly information written by subject experts.
Different information sources may be appropriate. Check your topic and assignment requirements and consult your lecturer.

Have a look at this really good explanation of why you should go further than Google in your research...(created by La Trobe University Library)

Here is a guide, from Sydney University, about Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly resources

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