Using the World Wide Web

It is practically impossible to do research today without recourse to the World Wide Web.  Most researchers, when beginning their work in a new area, will turn to resources like Google or Wikipedia.  While both of these resources are good starting points, they are not usually the best places to stop. Neither resource has reliable fact-checking and Google, in particular, serves best as a search engine rather than as a reference source. However, it would be unfair to state that Google is a dead end, especially in light of two Google services, Google Books and Google Scholar.

Google Books is a valuable resource in helping you to locate books that may be out of print, to preview books that you think might be relevant to your research, and even buy items that may be of use to you. Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.  Through both Google services, you may be able to get full text material relevant to your work but not always. In some cases, you may only see an excerpt or an abstract but these should provide you with enough information to decide if the complete book or article is useful.

The electronic resources available through the Boston University Libraries, for example, are evaluated by library staff and are often provided by the publishers of our print subscriptions.

Here are a few sites you can use to get information on evaluating Web resources: