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Tips for searching the internet


Tips for Evaluating Websites

The Internet is a self-publishing medium, which means that if you conduct a search on the topic “whales”, for instance you may find information published by a group of school children, university professors or a “save the whales” lobby group in the same set of results.
Some important aspects to consider in evaluating websites are:
  • Source: who is the author (individual or organisation) responsible for the website or document? You can get an instant idea from the website address. An .edu and .gov address is an educational and government organisation, whereas .com and .net addresses could be anybody.
  • Audience: who is the information aimed at?
  • Timeliness: when was the site last updated?
  • Quality: accuracy, comprehensiveness, links to other sites?
  • Relevance: does the information provided answer your needs?
  • Layout: how easy is it to read the information and move around the site?

Strategies for improving your Internet searches

  • List keywords to describe the information you are looking for. The keywords are the most important words associated with your enquiry. For example “burke”, “wills”, “explorers”.
  • Be specific. For example, do not put in “gold” as it will return too many hits, whereas “gold rush Australia” will return a more concise list.
  • Put phrases in inverted commas: For example, if you are searching for information on the “Great Barrier Reef”.
  • Read the instructions!: for the specific search engine you are using. All Search Engines have unique features.
  • Linking: Remember that the results of a search are not exhaustive—not every site will be found. Sometimes if you go to one site, it will contain links to other sites not found by the search engine.
  • Refine your search: Use the advanced search techniques and help functions on the search engine, examine the documents listed, bookmark relevant sites for future reference, modify your search strategy to get a list of more relevant sites, if you do not find anything relevant try a different search engine.