Librarians are often guilty of setting up a false competition with Google--one they will lose every, single time. "Using Google to search the shallows of the internet is not effective research. To search effectively and dig deep, visit your library."
Pretending that Google is not a valuable research tool does not make libraries more important. Both the internet and libraries contain terrific resources, but they are only as good as the skills of the person doing the searching. Let's face it, good research skill depends on the ability of the searcher to think. If a student doesn't know what he is looking for, can't formulate or analyze ideas, and won't ask for help, that student is doomed from the beginning.
Dan Russell works for Google and studies how people search, and he uses Google to dig deep. Anybody who works with ideas or researches anything can benefit from his Google Research lessons on Search Research. A new version of his PowerSearching course opens on September 21st and anybody can register for the MOOC this week. If you think you know everything about the depths of the internet and how Google operates as a search engine, think again!
Take a look at Dan's master list of all the text lessons from the PowerSearchingWithGoogle.com online course. Here's the list for you. (These are labeled as Creative Commons CC BY-NC, so you can remix and reuse these if you want to, acknowledging that the lessons are Dan's original work by a link at the very least.)
- Don't understand the difference between conducting research and merely compiling a report of information (either lacks a provable thesis or is just a re-organization of information and other people's conclusions found in sources)
- Don't do enough reading to understand the scope and the differing perspectives on their topic
- Have pre-determined a conclusion without learning enough to support this idea / thesis with evidence
- Rely too much on one type of source (remember, you want a balance of primary & secondary sources and source types - books, interviews, websites, journal articles, etc.)
If you are tired of taking Google Images potluck when you search for photos, you might try Solate.tk where high resolution, hand-picked images from Flickr's library of Creative Commons-licensed images are all in one place. You can use a search box or check out their categories if you are just browsing. Always give credit to the owners of the images you use.
"Command F" (Mac) or "Control F" (Windows) brings up a search box in the upper righthand corner of any webpage to search within that page for any letter, word, or phrase. If you are doing some preliminary research on a topic, this is a handy tool to quickly see if the page has enough information on your topic to do you any good without having to read the whole page.
For example, if I want information on turkey calls, and I have pulled up a hunting page on the NWTF site, I can hit Command F and search "calls". It found three matches, one of which looks like a great link to a page that will do me more good.
Play around with this a little. It will help you hone in on the information you need more quickly.