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APSC 201 - Engineering Communication

Searching Online Effectively

Evaluate all of your sources:

  • Authority & Bias 
    • Who produced this source and why? Is there a unique and relevant perspective gained in this source? Is this source providing a clear indication of any bias, or is it trying to promote a hidden agenda? How can you tell the difference? Read the "About us" page as a starting point
  • Date      
    • When was this source produced? Is it still relevant now? Can you even tell when it was written?
  • Type of Source
    • What kind of source is this? Is it applicable as a university level source of information? You may find that Indigenous community websites, corporate reports, government statistics and reports, and social media all have something to offer as valid and important sources of information. How do you prioritize and represent those different viewpoints in your writing? How do you ensure that your work has a balanced and nuanced approach to a complicated topic? A wide range of sources, produced by different people and for different reasons, will help to ensure that you are representing important angles on a topic.
  • Relevance 
    • Is this the best source that you could find on your topic? The top results in library databases are often sorted by date or "relevance." In Google, the top results are informed by various factors, including paid placement - this is not the kind of criteria for selecting sources that will lead to a balanced perspective. You may need to search in multiple places in order to find and verify the accuracy and relevance of information.

Google Scholar is a very useful source for uncovering the 'grey literature' which includes the types of reports described above. You will not find corporate websites, but will find research centre publications, and government reports. 

Using Google effectively requires some tricks! Remember to try a few searches using different search words, to vary your results.