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Think Like a Researcher: Instruction Resources: #4 Using Google for Academic Research

Teaching Research And Information Literacy (TRAIL) Curriculum Resources for Writing 10


Course Learning Outcome:  Demonstrate information literacy and be able to work with evidence

Goal: Increase students’ awareness of Google search functionality; provide students with strategies for determining website credibility

Specifically, students will be able to

  • Increase the effectiveness of their Google searches (searching by phrase, in a domain, using exclusion, and paying attention to word order)
  • Evaluate a web source using strategies (e.g. analyze purpose, identify author, recognize domain, look at quality of evidence, verify information, look at currency)

Lesson: Using Google for Academic Research


  • Students watch tutorials independently or complete as a group in class. (~10 minutes)
    • How Google Search Works
    • Why Word Order Matters in Google
    • Search Tips (Find an exact phrase; Exclude words; Search for two things; Search within a site/domain)
    • Credible Websites?
  • They locate a resource/article using Google that could be appropriate for their research interest & consider its credibility.
  • They write a response to the Research Journal prompt after completing the tutorials.

Research Journal

Searching in Google; Evaluating Information

Answer the following questions about using Google to search for information on your topic.

  • How did understanding the way Google works change the way you constructed your search?
  • What criteria did you use to determine the credibility of the article you chose?


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For more search tips, see a full list of Google Search Features

How Google Search Works

Matt Cutts from Google explains how search works.  Length 3:15

Why Word Order Matters In Google

1 Minute Moceau illustrates that changes in word order can change the order and number of search results.  Length 1:46

Google Search Tips

These four Google videos are less than a minute total.  They give quick search tips.

Is this Website Credible?

Listen for four main areas to consider when evaluating the credibility of a website. 

from Harness Library - Length 3:52

Try Your Google Search Here!