To Google or Not to Google

April 10th, 11th, 12th at 1pm
Tech Center – Green Room 205A

Google provides fast but often ineffective results. Will you really impress your professor by citing a Wikipedia article as a source for a research paper? In this session a Temple University Librarian will discuss the pros and cons of using Google for academic research. Discover how to just as quickly access more appropriate sources without over relying on Google. This session will cover a new open source Wiki alternative, as well as some of the more traditional reference tools that have been digitized for easy web access.

Questions? Contact David Murray.

3 thoughts on “To Google or Not to Google

  1. Google is not Wikipedia. One must remember that Google is only a portal TO sources. And, lo and behond, there ARE reliable sources accessible through Google. For anyone doing research these days, is INDESPENSABLE. Don’t conflate the portal with bad sources. That would be irresponsible. Also, why teach to prefer one open source wiki to another? If teachers are concerned about the sources their students are citing then force those students to find and cite the primary sources that Wikipedia or wiki alternatives cite.
    Not only will that force a student to check the integrity of the information, but it will also force the student to get into the habit of perusing primary sources.

  2. Andrews,
    We do understand the difference between Google and Wikipedia. In this case Google is a handy shortcut for “general web searching.” We did discuss Google Scholar in this presentation as a good alternative to Google (normal), in particular how you can access the articles you find on Google Scholar which are not free (sometimes this is an invisible process if you are on campus).
    We are all for professors requiring their students to check sources and use reliable sources, but we also realize that won’t always happen and that students aren’t only looking for information because a professor assigned something.

  3. Thanks for your thought-provoking comments, Andrew. In fact I regularly use Google and the Wikipedia, and recommend both to my students. I worry, though, that many students are over-relying on the Wiki and other non-scholarly web sites. Wiki is often at or near the top of search results in Google. While Wiki and other “Open Web” sources can be great research “starters,” students should consider more traditional resources as well: articles, books, and reference materials (encyclopedias, etc.), bibliographies, government documents, and so on. The point of our session was to let students know that many of these more traditional sources have been digitized and are available through the library’s web site.
    Students are entitled to know that the vast majority of Open Web “sources” (read “web sites”) indexed by Google are NOT appropriate for college-level research papers. Of course, that still leaves thousands of Open Web sources that are, or might be, appropriate. Certain Google search techniques can be used to increase the chances that the better, more appropriate sites will rise to the top of the results list. For instance, one can limit a Google search to only educational sites by entering “site:edu” into the search box.
    Google Scholar, as mentioned by Derik, is another animal entirely. It’s less like the Open Web Google search engine and more like a traditional library database, such as Lexis or Ebsco’s Academic Search Premier. The reason we recommend students consider using the Citizendium Wiki is that it has two distinct advantages over its “cousins”: 1) the existence of “gentle expert oversite”; and 2) authors must sign their articles (no anonymity). Read more about Citizendium here:

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