Living in the age of globalization and the turbulent times when an abundance of various information often makes it difficult to understand the wrong from right, it is crucial to know how to check yourself and find reliable information online. Be it the latest news reports, templates for your research paper, or good sources for a team college project, these little tricks will not only become a great time-saver but will prevent plagiarism issues and teach you to form an opinion of your own.
- Add the PDF part to your search string. This simple trick works wonders for those who want to find reliable scientific reports, statistics, or publications that can be considered as worthy sources of verified information. Add the PDF part as you type your search query. For example, if one has to look for environmental problems in Florida or host a conversation about Miami’s beach most common challenges, enter something within the lines of “Florida Environmental Report PDF”, which will bring up much better results than generic blogs or social media posts with no author or credibility. Do not forget that most research papers have sources and bibliography at the end of a research document!
- Use “statistics”, “as reported by”, or “according to research” phrases. The latest situation with Coronavirus has taught the online community an important lesson about checking all the available information twice. We hear the numbers and statistics, yet we rarely check for their credibility. Do not repeat this mistake! If you need statistics and want to find a source for anything from movie ticket sales or how much your beloved celebrity earns, just add one of the helpful keywords to your search string. It increases your chances as you browse the results!
- Always look for publisher’s information. Regardless of existing sources, especially if you are reading through social media on Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube, look out for the original publisher’s information. It is not only a measure to keep yourself safe from plagiarism or accidental copyright infringement, but also a way to see who the author is. When you can look up information about the author, it helps to determine whether the information comes from a reliable expert or one of many online authors who are only blindly copying information from elsewhere.
- Check for primary sources. Although it takes time and may appear as a great challenge in some cases, always check for the primary sources. It can be done by copying the article’s header or checking for the original poster. The bad side of social media is that people often repost the information or copy only the bits of information that they like, editing various things out. Always ensure that you find at least one other source where the information has been published before you mark your discovery as reliable. If you cannot find the original source, use quotes for the phrase to find out whether there are exact sources where the initial wording can be met.
- Use Google Scholar and similar databases. Where do we usually go when we need to check for a word or an important term? Most of us might have said something within the lines of Quora or Wikipedia. Although, most information presented there will fit for the basic needs, writing a research or getting ready for a job interview might require more credibility. There is a reason why most world’s colleges do not accept Wikipedia as a reliable source. Use databases like Google Scholar instead or turn to Microsoft Academic database, which has over 210 million articles covered with a list of references and an internal search engine.