(or other search engines)
KNOW THE LIMITATIONS OF WEB SEARCHING - Information is sorted and ranked according to commercial/consumer/popular considerations. Google wants you to love it, so it keeps you in the silo of what you already know and like. (Each person gets different results.) Information is not vetted for accuracy or reliability.
NOT FOR SCHOLARLY MATERIAL - Most scholarly articles are either not found by search engines or are behind paywalls. Instead use library databases or the library catalog. (The exception is Google Scholar, but it's a small pool.)
USE FOR FAST FACTS - But carefully check sources. Are they reliable? Analyze for bias (which can sometimes be subtle) by looking at language, scope and focus. Wikipedia can be great for getting basic facts, but check the notes in the reference section. Follow the links and evaluate those sources. The "View History" tab shows past edits. Look for Wikipedia editor comments that flag shortcomings. The "Talk" tab shows other notes on the article.
USE FOR BIOGRAPHICAL OR PUBLICATION INFORMATION - But again the reliability of sources is key, Search an unknown web source in Google or a newspaper database. Look at the About page of a website. Who is providing the site and why? Who is the intended audience? Are different viewpoints represented? Searching a person's name with the word "Papers", can sometimes find archival collections with bios. Note also that that the library has vetted reference and biographical databases. Check the Reference and Context box in this guide.
USE FOR FINDING POPULAR MAGAZINE & NEWSPAPER ARTICLES - The web is great for determining what's out there. (Note the News tab.) However, access can be limited to 5-10 free articles. Put the title of the article and name of the publication in the library's OneSearch tool to see if there's a Colby subscription. You can also use the JOURNAL tab on the Colby Libraries home page.
USE FOR OTHER PUBLIC OUTPUT - Blogs, zines, alternative e-publications, community organizations, college/university websites and digital archival collections. Niche and alternative publications may require descriptive terms to move them up in the massive search results. Do pre-research in known reliable sources to find names of other relevant and reliable online publications and blogs.
SEARCH PRECISELY & DEEPLY - Beware of common words or words that have multiple meanings. Specify as much as possible with additional terms, but also explore alternative phrasing. Experiment with terms to move desired results higher in search results, but still explore multiple pages of results.
USE "ADVANCED SEARCH" - On your Google search results page, click on SETTINGS. The "Site or Domain" field can be useful in limiting your results to government information (.gov) or webpages & articles created by other educational institutions (.edu). Limiting the domain to .edu can be especially helpful in focusing a search.
USE "TOOLS" - On your Google search results page, click on Tools > All Results > Verbatim. This can help focus your results. Limiting by date can get you items with greater currency.
EVALUATE, EVALUATE, EVALUATE! - Investigate every source by doing separate searches of source creators, authors and publications. Every source you interact with is a conversation. With whom are you talking? What are their values and motivations? Are they getting their information from reliable sources and interpreting evidence fairly and intelligently? Who is the intended audience?
In library catalogs and databases, keyword searches only look for exact matches.
To narrow results, try using QUOTATION MARKS to glue together words in phrases, titles or an author's name. "stream of consciousness"
An ASTERISK is a wild card that stands in for different endings of a word. ideal* = ideal, ideals, idealism, idealistic
Subject searches take you to books that have been pre-identified as being ABOUT that person or subject. Identify SUBJECT HEADINGS by checking the item records found in a keyword search.
Not very many search results? Look for broader subject headings in item records. Books covering broader topics may include chapters or significant passages on the author you're interested it. Check indexes and Table of Contents.
Check the WORKS CITED, NOTES, REFERENCES and BIBLIOGRAPHIES of every relevant article or book. You may discover another book or article perfect for your topic.
Quick access to facts and biographical information (but not always reliable).
Popular publications are favored in searches, but access may be behind paywalls.
Most scholarly journals and books are not accessible on the open web.
Specializes in scholarly materials, particularly those that support the Colby curriculum.
Library subscriptions provide you with free access to both scholarly and popular materials.
Reference resources are fact-checked by academic publishers.
ALL SOURCES (WHETHER LIBRARY OR WEB) SHOULD BE CRITICALLY EVALUATED!
Search for physical and digital books, films and other media in our library catalog.
A book of literary criticism can be by a single author or can be an edited anthology with chapters ("book articles") on different aspects of the book's general theme.
To identify SCHOLARLY BOOKS, investigate/examine the:
PRINT: Look at the location and call number. Most Colby owned books related to literature can be found on the two bottom floors of the Miller Library book stacks. Order books from Bates, Bowdoin and the Colby Annex by clicking CBB Request in an item record.
DIGITAL: look for a small circular red E in the icons to the left of your results . .
Or use the drop-downs on the CBBcat search page, for a more precise search.
OneSearch searches multiple resources at once. It's most useful for precise, controlled searches.
Use Advanced Search and limit by format.
To find an article listed in a bibliography, enter title of article in top row search box. You may need to also add the last name of the author in the second box.
To find book chapters discussing a writer or an artistic work, enter the name of the writer or the work in the search box and check the box BOOK CHAPTER in the "Show Content Type" limiter.
Older editions of the MLA handbook are also available. Many databases still use the 7th edition. OWL uses the 8th edition. Note the differences! Be consistent.
MLA 7th Edition: Falk, Cynthia G. "'The Intolerable Ugliness Of New York': Architecture And Society In Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence." American Studies 42.2 (2001): 19-43. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 19 Jan. 2017.
MLA 8th Edition: Falk, Cynthia G. "'The Intolerable Ugliness Of New York': Architecture And Society In Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence." American Studies, vol. 42, no. 2, 2001, pp. 19-43. EBSCO, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40643250. Accessed 19 Jan. 2017.
Articles in SCHOLARLY/ACADEMIC JOURNALS are particularly important to academic research. They:
Look for options in databases to limit results to peer-reviewed journals.
Articles not available in full-text? Request through ILLiad, our interlibrary loan service. Some articles are sent in just a few hours.
In databases, look for Request from ILLiad or Request from another library links when you are directed to a screen that that says full-text is not available at Colby.