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Tutt Library Research Guides
You can find primary sources via Google, but use the principles of information literacy to decide if a website is trustworthy.
- Look at the link - does the main part of the link end in .edu or .gov? Educational and government websites tend to be more trustworthy.
- Does the website give credentials or other information leading you to believe the content posted is legitimate?
- Be wary of quotes that are shared on the Internet - many are misattributed, modified, or just plain false.
Google Books Search Tips
There are many pre-copyright (1922 and earlier) books that have been fully digitized and are available through Google Books. Searching Google Books isn't always easy because of the sheer amount of information that hasn't been really "curated" by humans, unlike in library catalogs. Try these tips for more effective searching.
- Go directly to Advanced Book Search (Google hides this for some reason)
- Limit Publication Date to times around when your person was alive and active, with 1922 as a cutoff date if you want to be assured of full text access
- Limit Content to Books unless you think there could be a primary source in Magazines
- If you're getting too many results, try putting your person in as Author.
Wikipedia is the modern version of large sets of print encyclopedias - with the added caveat that anybody can edit the encyclopedia at any time.
DO use Wikipedia for:
- Reading an overview of a topic, gaining a general understanding, and obtaining historical background.
- Mining the bibliography at the end of the article for proper sources.
- Following links to other Wikipedia pages to understand more of the information surrounding the topic.
DON'Ts of Wikipedia:
- Don't cite in a college level assignment, unless explicitly permitted by your professor
- Don't assume that the Wikipedia article contains every pertinent bit of information
- Don't take controversial and/or unfolding events at face value. Remember that anybody can edit Wikipedia at any time, and the instant that you visit Wikipedia may be the one moment where erroneous information was added or correct information was deleted before editors caught it and corrected it. Also realize that unfolding events often have incorrect or incomplete information reported that will be corrected later on, as journalists and investigators put together the details.