Don't just "search" ... RESEARCH!

Your teacher did not assign you a "search" paper. She called it a "research paper." What's the difference between search and research?

Search: 

means you are satisfied with the first few results from your Google search. You don't look further. You don't judge the quality of the results.

Research:

means you seek out quality sources by changing search terms or results filters. It means you use the 5 Ws acronym to judge a website's reliability. It means you avoid content farms such as Ask.com.

Apply the 5 Ws Acronym to Judge Web Content

  • WHO - Who wrote the website and what is their area of expertise?
  • WHAT - What is the purpose of the website? Inform, sell, or persuade?
  • WHEN - When was the website last updated? If you can't find a date, don't use the source.
  • WHERE - Where did the website get its information? What sources are referenced?
  • WHY - Why does this website meet my needs? Is the information at my reading level? Is too much or not enough information given?

Apply filters to your search results

  • Click Tools on a results page to apply filters such as WHEN website last updated
  • Add search terms to target results
    • site:edu -- adding this command to your keyword only shows results hosted at a college or university website
    • "not" excludes a word or term

Avoid information from content farms

Content farm websites, sometimes called content mills, have a lot of articles on a variety of topics, but they are written by freelance writers who are paid very little and whose job is to generate ad revenue. The writers load up on keywords in their articles in order to attain high search engine rankings. 

Here are examples of these articles: WHO wrote the articles, and do you consider them experts in the field?

Content farms:
Answers (answers.com)
Answer Bag (answerbag.com)
Articles Base (articlesbase.com)
Ask (ask.com)
Associated Content (associatedcontent.com)
BizRate (bizrate.com)
Buzle (buzzle.com)
Brothersoft (brothersoft.com)
Bytes (bytes.com)
eFreedom (efreedom.com)
eHow (ehow.com)
Experts Exchange (experts-exchange.com)
eZine Articles (ezinearticles.com)
Find Articles (findarticles.com)
FixYa (fixya.com)
Helium (helium.com)
Hub Pages (hubpages.com)
InfoBarrel (infobarrel.com)
Livestrong (livestrong.com)
Mail Archive (mail-archive.com)
Question Hub (questionhub.com)
Suite101 (suite101.com)
Twenga (twenga.com)
WiseGeek (wisegeek.com)
Wonder How To (wonderhowto.com)
Yahoo! Answers (answers.yahoo.com)
Xomba (xomba.com)