Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thursday March 24 - Ask A Librarian closed

Ask A Librarian will be closed this Thursday for a college-wide event. Please feel free to leave your question via voice mail or web form, and we will answer it on Friday.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Resources for Fact-checking

We are constantly being bombarded with information - on the web, on TV, in books, and in conversation. Unfortunately, a lot of it is misinformation. It's not that most people intend to deceive us, but once they've picked up an error, they pass it along.

Fortunately the web makes it possible to fact-check on the fly. Here are some resources.

  • Consumer Reports - objective product information and reviews (requires college login)
  • DeviceWatch - debunks phony products and gadgets
  • FactCheck.org - fact-checking for the news from the Annenberg Public Policy Center
  • MythBusters.com - from the Discovery Channel TV show that debunks urban legends, old wives' tales, and movie physics, among other things
  • NewsTrust.net - crowd-sourced fact-checking of the news media
  • PolitiFact.com - the least partisan fact-checking source for politics and what politicians say
  • QuackWatch - maintained by an actual medical doctor with current, valid credentials - debunks spurious and dangerous alternative medicine claims
  • Skeptic's Dictionary - debunks pseudoscience and the paranormal
  • Snopes.com - debunks virus warnings, chain letters, hoaxes, scams, urban legends
  • SourceWatch - crowd-sourced tracing of information to its original intellectual and financial sources, from the Center for Media and Democracy

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Monday, March 14, 2011

The issue of "Content Farms"

Recently Google took steps to remove articles from content farms like Associated Content from people's search results lists. This caused an uproar in the content farm and search engine optimization business, and a sigh of relief among many searchers.


Search results lists were increasingly clogged up with "articles" from content farms. These articles look like information sources, but they exist solely to get people to view an ad. They are written in a hurry by underpaid freelancers who often have no knowledge of the subjects they write about. Because the objective is to cram keywords in there, accuracy is optional.

But with the change in Google's search algorithm, those articles will no longer show up in your results lists, mixed in with the legitimate sites. Even so, there is still plenty of work left for the researcher to do to evaluate the reliability and quality of a web information source.

Here's a tutorial on how to evaluate information sources, from the library's Information Skills Tutorial - http://commons.esc.edu/informationskills/manage-results/evaluate-the-information/
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Visit the Library Blog at its new home: http://commons.esc.edu/libraryblog.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Uses For Google

"GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND! - Learn how to use Google to its full potential"


"Use Google to Prepare For A Meeting"
Talks about how to use the Advanced Search feature to find subject matter that directly pertains to a region of the world.


"Use Google to Find the Names of Departments"
Talks about how to use Google's "synonym finder" resource. Useful for practical things (like finding the real name of a department in a business) and also for coming up with keywords for research.


"Use Google to Find E-mail Addresses"



"How to Use Google to Find a Job: The Searchologist"

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Read this blog at its new location: Library News and Tips