LOOP » Doing Research » Google & Wikipedia

Google & Wikipedia |

Things to Remember!
  • Google and Wikipedia can *sometimes* be good sources for background information about a topic.
  • Always check OneSearch or the Library's online databases to see if an article you found via Google or Wikipedia is available full-text.

Google & Wikipedia

What is Google good for?

Google *can* be a good place to start looking for information if you are unfamiliar with your topic and are just getting started, but the quality of what you find can vary widely, depending on the site.

TIP: Do an "Advanced Search" in Google when searching for information about a topic. Under the "Advanced Search" option, you can search .edu, .gov, and .org domain sites. Typically .edu, .gov, and .org domains will provide more reliable information about a topic than a .com search.

Screenshot of Google's 'Advanced Search' option

What is Wikipedia good for?

Like Google, Wikipedia *can* be a good place to start if you are unfamiliar with your topic and you are just getting started, but you never want to use it as a source in a paper.  Like Google, the quality of Wikipedia entries can vary widely. 

Does the library provide better ways to find background information about a topic?

Yes! We have lots of different online encyclopedias and reference databases that will allow you to find authoritative information about a topic.  Try Gale Virtual Reference Library and search across hundreds of different reference works quickly and easily.

What should I do if my professor told me NOT to use Google or Wikipedia for my research?

Listen to your professor! Again, it *might* be okay to use Google and Wikipedia when you are just beginning to familiarize yourself with a topic, but you definitely do not want to use these as sources for your paper, especially if your professor told you not to.

Can I find full-text articles using my favorite search engine?

You can try to search for full-text articles using a search engine such as Google.  You never know what you might find! Google Scholar is an even better way to search for scholarly articles, and it can sometimes lead you to the full-text via the Library's databases. However, many times the full text is only available for a fee. Always check the Library's collection before you pay for any articles. The article might be available for free through one of the Library's databases.