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Honors 101: College Level Research

Research in College

Research for your college classes may be radically different from what you have been used to in the past in any or all of the following ways:

  1. You will be expected to do more research in college.
  2. The expectations for your papers and for your research, in general, will be higher.
  3. You will be expected to use scholarly sources for many of your classes; Wikipedia and the random web site will no longer be acceptable resources for your research.
  4. You will be expected to form your own conclusions using evidence from your research.
  5. You will be expected to be more independent in your research.
  6. You may be used to citing your sources using only MLA; however, in your college classes you will expected to use a variety of citation formats depending on the discipline you are in.

Google Scholar

We know you will use Google, but we want you to use it as efficiently and helpfully as possible, so try using Google Scholar (using this link will take you through our proxy server to authenticate), since it can be set up to connect to the Libraries' full text holdings.

Setting Google Scholar Preferences

Choose Settings from above the Google Scholar search box

Choose Library Links, type University of South Alabama, and check University of South Alabama Libraries - Full-Text@USA

Save your settings.

Once you retrieve a results list, click on the Full-Text@USA link on the right to be taken to the article. If you have connected to Google Scholar using the above link, you will have already been asked to authenticate and should not be asked again.

Evaluating Web Information

When looking at a website, evaluate it using criteria such as:

Purpose & Audience

  • Who is the site designed for?
  • Is the site scholarly or popular?
  • Are there advertisements on the site?
  • What is the overall purpose of the site?

Authority & Credibility

  • Can the author of the site be identified?
  • What are the author's qualifications?
  • Is the site affiliated with a particular organization?
  • What is the domain of the site (.edu, .gov, .org, .com)? 
  • Do you think the author has expertise on the subject?

Accuracy & Reliability

  • Does the site appear to be well-researched?
  • Are there references to the sources of informations supporting the site's statements or viewpoints?
  • Does the site include grammatical, spelling, or typographical errors?
  • How does the site compare to library resources available on the topic?

Currency & Timeliness

  • When was this information published?
  • Does the page indicate when it was most recently updated?
  • Are there dead links on the page?

Objectivity or Bias

  • Does the site present many opinions or just one?
  • Can you tell if the site presents mostly opinions or facts?
  • Can you identify any bias in the information presented?
  • Is the site sponsored by a company or organization?
  • If there are advertisements, are they easy to distinguish from the informational content?

Structure & Navigation

  • Is the site well organized?
  • Is it easy to navigate between different pages on the site?
  • Does the site offer a search box?

Finally, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this site a reliable, well-documented information source provided by a reputable author or organization?
  • Would this be a good source of information for my assignment?