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Science

A guide for general science classes, including anatomy, biology, chemistry, geology and physics.

Search Smarter

You don't want to wade through millions of Web pages. By using a few tricks, you can focus your searches relatively easily to those authoritative, reliable sources you want to use.

  • Use key search terms - Use the same search terms you used successfully to find books and articles.
  • Know your search tool - Use advanced search features to control your search. For example you can limit your search in Google to just search government or educational Web sites by limiting to a specific domain. Learn more at Google for Researchers.
  • Use search tools you can trust - Google Scholar indexes scholarly literature on the Web.

You can search Google Scholar below:

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Google Scholar Search

Suggested Sites

These are examples of credible Web sites you could use for a variety of science assignments.

Don't Reinvent the Wheel

Top Level Sites

One of the best ways to begin the Web portion of your research is by identifying top-level sites. It works like this:  Think of what kind of information you want, and then try to think of an agency, organization, or institution who tracks and publishes information on that topic.  For instance:

For Information on…

You might try visiting the…

Breast Cancer

National Cancer Institute

History of football

National Football League

West Nile Virus

Center for Disease Control

Air Pollution

Environmental Protection Agency

Disappearing California Farmland

California Dept. of Agriculture

Nuclear Waste

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

 

Top level sites will not only be a likely source of high-quality information on your topic, but will also often provide links to other relevant sites that you can use to learn more about your topic.

Other ways you can identify appropriate top-level agencies include:

  • “Contact Information” sections included in the MJC Library article databases, CQ Researcher and Issues & Controversies
  • Agencies, organizations, and publications mentioned in books and articles you’ve already found
  • Discussions with your librarian and professor

Why Evaluate?

You need to ensure that you're using the highest quality sources of information for your academic work. As you gather information for your research project, you'll look at many different sources: books, articles from databases, Web documents, interviews, videos, and more.

You can feel pretty confident that books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's research databases are reliable and credible because you know those have gone through a traditional editorial process; someone or some group has checked all the facts and arguments the author made and then deemed them suitable for publishing.  You still have to think about whether or not the book or article is current and suitable for your project but you can feel confident that it is a credible, reliable source.

Use the CRAAP Test for Credibility

Finding information today is easy; it's all around you. Making sure the information you find is reliable can be a challenge.

When you use Google or any social media to get your information how do you know it can be trusted? How do you know it's not biased?

You can feel pretty confident that books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's databases are reliable because someone or some group has checked all the facts and arguments the author made before publishing them. You still have to think about whether or not the book or article is current and suitable for your project but you can feel confident that it is a trustworthy source.

Make sure each and every source you plan on using in your paper or research assignment passes the CRAAP test.

 

Evaluate your sources: The CRAAP Test

Watch the brief video below to see how this works.