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Research Guides

GGR401: Geomorphology and the Anthropocene

Using Web Pages

For your GGR305 proposal, you can use the internet for preliminary research on your species. This means that you can search the internet to find out more about your species. 

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a great resource, especially when you are just getting started on research. You will generally find a complete and well-cited overview of the topic. However, since anyone can add to Wikipedia, it is not 100% trustworthy.

As you are doing your research, use Wikipedia to help you find sources and understand what to look for - in other words, use it as a starting point for your research, but do not cite Wikipedia itself.

Why can't I just Google?

We love Google!  It's a great place to start searching for information, but if you're only using Google or Google Scholar to do university-level research, you're missing out.  Here are four good reasons to use the library when doing your research (besides the fact that your professor told you to):

1. Paywalls

Have you ever found a great article online, only to be asked to pay to view it? This happens to a lot of students, but you should never pay for articles because your tuition already gives you access to them through the library (and here's a video that shows you how).  Even if we don't have the article (or book or other material) in our collection, we can get it for you from another library at no cost to you.

2. Credibility

Dog at the keyboard says to another: On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.Literally anyone can publish something on the internet. So how do you know if a webpage you find is trustworthy or not?  There are lots of clues to help you figure it out, of course, but wouldn't it be nice not to have to worry so much?  

When you start searching from the library homepage you can trust that your faithful librarians, who are experts in the subjects studied at U of T,have curated a collection of the best and most scholarly sources for you. Instead of searching on the free web, why not try a controlled environment that has been customized for U of T students?

3. Findability

We have hundreds of subject-specific search engines that can help you find the best sources for your topic.  Most of these search engines (including the library catalogue) use special tags to make results more relevant.  You can use each search engine's filtering options to limit your results to the tags you want.

4. Diversity

“Library=books”, right? Well, yes, but that’s not the full story. University libraries nowadays have a huge variety of research materials that you probably wouldn't be able to access through Google.  We’ve already mentioned scholarly journal articles, but we also have

Pretty amazing if you ask us.

Evaluating Information from the Web

Consider these criteria when looking for information on web sites:

 

    Accuracy

Is the information factual, not opinion?

How valid is the research that is the source?

Is the site free of errors in spelling or grammar and other signs of carelessness in its presentation of the material?

     

     Authority

Is the author's name given?

Are her/his qualifications specified?

Is the author affiliated with a reputable institution or organization?

Has the author written elsewhere on this topic?

If this is an organization or business website, are they qualified to speak on this topic?

Are additional electronic and print sources referenced to complement or support the material presented?

        Bias

Is the information factual, not opinion?

Where arguments are given, are they based on strong evidence and good logic?

Is the author's point of view impartial and objective?

Is the author's language free of emotion and bias?

Audience Level

What audience is the Web site designed for?

Is it too basic or too technical for your needs?

   Currency

Is this web site current?

Is the date of the most recent update given?

If this is a book or article, how old is the information?