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ENGL 102 - Mundy - Maple Woods

Quick Search Tips

Follow these quick tips for better search results.

When using a database, you must use keywords or phrases instead of sentences/questions. Don't forget to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to make your search more precise.

When using a search engine, every word matters. You get vastly different results when you search:

  • WHO (Is the World Health Organization)
  • The Who (Is a rock band from the 60's and 70's)
  • A Who (Is a Dr. Seuss character from Whoville)

Word order mattersSearch results are different if you search Sky Blue as opposed to Blue Sky. Using quotation marks will allow you to search for a specific phrase. Example: "sky blue" or "voter suppression."

Every letter matters:

  • Dial (can bring search results on a brand of soap)
  • Dials (are indicators of time, speed, etc or are movable control knobs)

Helpful Databases and Required Sites to Use


  • The databases listed below are designed to provide both the pro and con side of many topics.
  • Our databases include K-12 publications. Make sure you are not using an article aimed at younger readers.

Per your assignment, you must use two texts from from the following sites:

If you need to check the bias of the above organizations, you can find a conservative, neutral or liberal rating for numerous media sites at Allsides. Allsides also presents news headlines and articles from the right, neutral/center, and left points of view.

Common signs of fake news:

  • Alteration of a credible website.  For example: (Often .co is added to the end.)
  • Sites use satire for humor or to poke fun at people or issues. Information may seem outrageous, and it is meant to be. (
  • Fake news site may have a large number of advertisements/popups and links to stories that may seem inappropriate.
  • The site uses all caps or photoshopped pictures.
  • If the site offers links, follow them. (Garbage leads to garbage.)
  • Verify an unlikely story by finding the same information on a reputable site.
  • Check that the headline (tone, facts) match what is actually found in the story.
  • Check the date and sources of the information.  Social media often posts old information with few or no sources.

Check for accuracy, "fake news," and hoaxes here. Common fact checking sites:

General Databases

Ask Yourself . . .

Articles tend to focus on more narrow topics. While scholarly articles go through a peer review process, newspaper and magazine articles do no. Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating articles:

  • Is the author identified?  Are author credentials listed?  You can often find information about the author by doing a quick web search.
  • When was the article written? Is the information current?
  • Does the article answer your research question?
  • Look at the length of the article.  Is it long enough to provide sufficient content?
  • What is the level of language:  Easy enough for a child? Generally understood by an adult? Scholarly? Technical?
  • Is the information accurate? You can look at other sources to see if the author's claim is supported by experts in the field.
  • Does the article contain a list of references?
  • What is the purpose of the article:  To inform?  Persuade?  Entertain? 
  • What type of publication is it:  Scholarly? Professional or technical? Periodical? Newspaper?