Internet Searching

Yes, you can use Google or any other Internet search engine to locate resources... but how do you know when what you have found is authoritative and trustworthy? 

You are responsible for ensuring the academic content of the documents that you use.  Consider carefully how you will assess the information that you find.  You may wish to find answers for these questions:

  • is the author affiliated with an academic institution?
  • is a biography available for the author from a trusted (reference) source?
  • what is the reputation of the author?
  • is the article peer-reviewed?
  • who has cited (used) this article in other research?
  • is the web site associated with an educational institution?
  • is there a physical address associated with the web site / author?

These books may help:

Tip:  Confirm the resource by looking it up in the library catalogue.  Google Books frequently provides access only to parts of the book.

Tip:  If there is any doubt as to whether a journal article is academic or peer-reviewed, consult

or confirm it with your professor or with a librarian before using it.

Using Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a great awareness resource!  It crosses the boundaries of what is covered by database providers and it will find current research that has not yet been formally published.  It will make you aware of centres of research that may be relevant to your topic.

Google Scholar attempts to limit its searches to academic sites such as the web sites of educational institutions and to repositories of scholarly articles.  These may or may not be the final, published copies of articles -- if in doubt, use the citation information to look up the article using the catalogue, or try searching for the article by its title or authors in a relevant database.

Try using the advanced search page.  You can restrict your search to the social sciences, and you can take advantage of phrase searching and Boolean searching (ANY of these words = OR, ALL of these words = AND).

Also consider using Google Scholar from our web site.  We have associated it with our proxy server and if you use Google Scholar through our proxy server, there may be a better chance that you can access the full text of an article directly if the proxy server recognizes the article's site as one to which we have a subscription.

Content last reviewed: June 28, 2018