Using the Web

Module 6: Using the Web
When you have completed this section of the tutorial, you should be able to
  • understand the organization of the Internet
  • identify the major types of Web sites
  • use search engines to search the Web
  • interpret and evaluate Web search engine results
  • identify and fact-check Fake News

Search Engines
What's the difference between the Internet and the Web?

The Internet is a global network, connecting many smaller individual networks. For example, the computer you are using now is connected to another computer on campus. All the departments on campus are then connected to a larger network in the state. The Minnesota network is connected to regional, national and international networks.  The Web, short for World Wide Web, is just one part of the Internet.
Search engines are handy tools that help you find what you want on the Web.  Each search engine uses software (called spiders or robots) to compile a database of pages found on the publicly accessible Web. When you enter a search, the search engine scans its own database to match your terms against terms in the pages of its database.

So, each search engine searches the part of the Web it has collected -- not the whole Web -- and each search engine has a somewhat different database.  Use search engines:

* to find specific terms or phrases
* to find well-known entities, such as companies, government agencies, or people
* to find news, travel, and shopping services
GoogleBingYahoo, and  DuckDuckGo are examples of popular search engines.

Can I Use the Web for My Research?

"My instructor says I can't use Web sources for my paper."

Ask your instructor to clarify this, because there are basically 'two Webs.' There is the "public Web" that search engines find, and there's the "invisible Web",  Web sources the library buys that only the SCC community can use.  An article you find using an online article database such as Academic Search Premier also exists in a journal in print. It's just delivered via the Web by the library to facilitate research.  Academic Search Premier is an example of the "invisible Web" that your instructor is probably ok with.  Chances are that your instructor is concerned that you might get all your sources from the public Web.  

See below for some strengths and weaknesses of the public Web.

Go with the strengths of the public Web
  • to obtain current information on colleges, museums, non-profit organizations, or companies
  • for very current information such as news, sports scores, weather, stock quotes
  • to research a well-known event or individual
  • for opinions on a topic

Stop and think!  There are better places to look than the public Web
  • to find articles in scholarly journals (article database through the Library)
  • to find articles published in popular magazines (article database)
  • to find books on your topic (Library catalog)
  • to locate the full text of articles or books that are copyrighted (article database or online books)

Search Tips

Who creates websites?  
Just about everyone!  Large corporations, small businesses, religious organizations, educational institutions, doctors, hospitals, dentists, non-profit organizations, television stations, news organizations, etc. - and maybe even you!   Just like any other search, there are tips and tricks to help you make sense of it all. 

Use nouns and unique words
Put the most important words first and be succinct
Example: If you wanted to know the population of Minneapolis, use these keywords:   Minneapolis mn population

Use Quotes around Phrases
This lets the search engine know you want the results to have the phrase not just separate words
Example: "world health organization" or use quotes when searching a specific person  "Beyonce Knowles"

Use parentheses around terms, enter connectors in capital letters  
Example:  (adolescents OR teenagers) AND cigarettes

Use the Advanced Search
An advanced search in a search engine will allow you to limit to more credible websites such as .gov (government) or .edu (education)
You can also limit by for-profit sites such as .com, .biz, .tv or non-profit (.org or .net). 

Evaluating a Website
So, now you have some websites on your topic but how do you evaluate them for content, bias, authority, accuracy, and currency?  Here's a website evaluation tip sheet that you can bookmark on your computer or print a PDF.  

Another helpful resource is Rate My Source from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. This tool will help you evaluate online resources. 

Watch the video below for more tips and use the PDF tip sheet for help.  If you ever have any questions about a site, ask a librarian or your instructor.

From the Oklahoma City Community College Library.

Evaluating Websites. “Evaluating Websites.” YouTube, 9 Jan. 2012, Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.​

Fake News - How to Identify and Avoid

From Library of Congress Image Collection
Did your mother call you to tell you that liberals hate science?  Did your Facebook feed pop up with an article on a new pesticide that's going to kill us all?  Did one of your friends breathlessly tell you that president-elect Donald Trump was going to pardon mass shooter Dylann Roof?  You might have heard any or all of these stories, but there's one thread connecting all of them: they're not true.

If you're a Facebook user, the following link from the Wall Street Journal shows how news populates your feed depending on your interests and 'likes.'  Blue Feed, Red Feed

The ability to tell accurate news from fake news is an important skill that you'll use for the rest of your life.  Created by the librarians at Indiana University East, the following links will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online, plus a chance to exercise your newfound skills.

Fake News and Fact Checking 101
Fact Checking Resources
Let's Check a Claim
Check Your Own Claim!

"What makes a news source good?" created by Vanessa Otero, this is a graphic of news sources and how they rank in credibility.
Glendale Community College Libraries has created an interactive game called Facticious that allows you to test your skills when it comes to recognizing fake news and misinformation. 
And finally, what's really happening when you search the web?
Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles"

Pariser, Eli. “Beware Online ‘Filter Bubbles’ | Eli Pariser.” YouTube, 2 May 2011,​

Wrap Up
Way to go!

You should now be able to:
  • understand the organization of the Internet
  • identify the major types of Web sites
  • use search engines to search the Web
  • interpret and evaluate Web search engine results

Please continue to Module 7 Citing Your Sources.



Hide Titlebar
Hide Box Content
Favorite Box



Heather Biedermann

Ask A Librarian