Research Skills

How to find and evaluate sources and navigate the Chester Fritz Library.

Web Searching and Webiste Evaluation

Control What You See on the First Page of Google Results

Use Quotation Marks for an exact phrase - carefully: “food politics”, not “political implications of food use”

Use Essential Words only (no question formats). Starting a search with How... opens you up to spammers

Pre-limit Search to trusted Sites by including the phrase site: for example "food scarcity" site:gov, (other local or regional searches might use: or

Ensure you will connect with reports by including the phrase filetype:pdf for example "food scarcity" filetype:pdf

Look for data by including the phrase filetype:xls for example "food scarcity" filetype:xls

For More Tips visit Get More Out of Google Infographic

Utilize a Search Result List or Good Article for Better Searching

Pay attention to unfamiliar words, if you type "immigrants sending money home" and you see remittances in the results, redo your search with that term for better results

Use Control F (Find) on a results list or in a pdf instead of scanning with your eyes for the words you want to see, saves a lot of time

Look for People, Organizations (thinktanks, Universities, non-profits) and search those or visit their websites

Most Important Tip for Google Scholar Users

Don't go to their website. Instead use library homepage...Quicklinks...G to get behind paywalls and connect to our databases

Thanks to Tasha Bergson-Michelson, Instructional and Programming Librarian at Castilleja School (and former Search Educator @ Google) for the inspiration and some of the examples


Evaluating Websites: The CRAAP test

Currency – The information should be current or updated regularly.  Consider: When was it produced? When was it updated? Is the information on the page outdated for your topic? Are the links current, updated regularly, or broken?

Relevance – The resource should add quality support for your argument.  Consider: What does it add to your argument? Is this the best source for this information? Is the information appropriately complex? Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority – The page should list the author’s credentials, provide a method of contact, and generally be a .gov, .edu, .org or .net site.  Consider: Who wrote the page? What credentials are listed for author/s? Is the person qualified to write this information? Can you contact him or her? Look at the about page. What institution published the document? What qualifications do they have? Do they have a bias?

Accuracy – The information on the website should be supported by evidence, reviewed or refereed. You should be able to verify the sources used.  Consider: How detailed is the information?  Is the information supported by evidence? If so, are the sources cited correctly and evaluated? What types of sources are used? Can you verify them? Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?

Purpose – The webpage should provide accurate, objective information with limited advertising.  Consider: Why was this written and for whom? What opinions are expressed by the author? Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion? What goals or objectives does this page meet? How much advertising is on the page?

Here are two sample websites that someone researching concussions may find. Look at the websites and using the criteria outlined in this guide, discuss the usefulness of each for an academic research paper.


Website example: NINDS Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page -

Website example: Traumatic Brain -