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Evaluating Information

Learn the tools you need for evaluating information sources.

Pro Web Search

Google Like a Pro

Effective internet searching is as much about eliminating the results you don’t need as it is finding the ones you do. Using the following tips can help you clear away the clutter of results you don’t need — and make it easier to find the results you do.

  • Use quotation marks to search for webpages containing an exact phrase.
  • Use AND and OR to combine search terms.
  • Use parentheses to create more sophisticated searches.
  • Narrow your results to a specific date range.
  • Search for results from one specific website.
  • Use – (the minus sign) to exclude specific terms from results.

Based on the News Literacy Project's Eight Tips to Google Like a Pro

Investigate the Author

On the web, it can be a challenge to judge content based on the identity of the author. Sometimes the author is not stated, or a nickname is used. When an author’s name is shown, here are a few tips on checking out this individual’s expertise.

  • Search a library database, use Summon Quick Search, or Google Scholar to identify other writings by the author.
  • Search for your author in Google Scholar to see if others have cited works by your author in their own writings.
  • “Google” the author to identify other writings by or about the author. Sometimes an author’s participation in a conference or other professional activity can be identified in the search results.
  • If available, consult an “About” page on the website (if there is one) to read the author’s self‐description. Attempt to verify some of the facts.
  • If the author is affiliated with an academic institution, business, or organization, check the directory on the associated website to confirm the author’s status.

From Evaluating Web Content, University Libraries, University at Albany and is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.

Web Address Clues

The last part of a website address is the domain suffix and can give you an idea about the quality or the purpose of the site. Some common examples are .com, .org, .edu, and .gov.

Restricted top level domains (only qualified entities can use these domains):

  • .edu - associated with a U.S. school, school district, or university
  • .gov - created by the U.S. government
  • .mil - U.S. military

Unrestricted top level domains (anyone, good or bad, can use these domains):

  • .com
  • .org
  • .net

Going global?

In most cases, you can limit your search results to webpages from a specific country by using the country's domain extension.

  • In the search box of your favorite search engine, type site: immediately followed by a period and the domain extension. There should not be a space between site: and the domain extension.
  • After the domain extension, include a space followed by at least one keyword. You can add as many keywords as you like. manga education classes

Country Domain Examples

Country domain extension examples include .ca (Canada); .in (India); .jp (Japan); .au (Australia); .uk (United Kingdom). 

Search Examples

  • To find Australian websites that mention suicide rates: suicide rates
  • To find Canadian websites that mention COVID: covid
  • To find Japanese websites that mention manga, education, and classes: manga education classes