Unit 9: Search skills and referencing

For many students (and pretty much everyone else) the first step of research these days often means looking to Google for an answer. In fact, the term ‘googling it’ has become synonymous with searching on the internet. While Google is often highly effective in finding popular sites, news or images, there are a number of popular alternatives that students should also be familiar with if they are to be effective searchers. Considering there are increasing concerns about Google’s privacy policies it is important to evaluate search engines just as we evaluate the websites to which they link.


Of course, many of you may find that Google is still the quickest way to search the web. You might like to check out the Google Search Education site which provides some great tips and activities to help you make your searches more effective.

Extension- Referencing

A critical part of effective research is referencing. There are a number of bibliography and referencing tools that make life easier. For a comprehensive, fully featured tool that keeps track of your research, saves pdf files and generates complex bibliographies, we recommend Zotero. It can take a while to get used to Zotero, but it is an incredibly powerful research assistant. However, it might be a tool that you file away in your “explore after the PLN is over’ box, due to the complexity of the program. We do have a guide to getting started with Zotero in our help wiki, so you might have a read of this after the PLN is over.

A much simpler bibliography generator is Bibme. It’s a simple tool for students to use but the site only includes a few referencing styles and doesn’t include the Harvard system in its options. However, it does automatically add books based on ISBN, and also guides students to fill in the necessary details when referencing more difficult sources like websites, magazine articles, films and more.

Go to previous task- Online databases

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4 Responses to Unit 9: Search skills and referencing

  1. Chrismc says:

    Do you know of other sites similar to Bibme that do use the Harvard system for referencing?

  2. Sandra says:

    Mm.. an interesting unit. I used the terms ‘Gallipoli’ and ‘Gallipoli 1915’ with the search engines and got some interesting results. Love the clean uncluttered look of DuckDuckGo but was led to wikipedia sites – not much variety at all but another topic may bring up more than just wikipedia?
    Bing looks similar to Google but brought up more authoritive sites than just wikipedia.
    instaGrok doesn’t work on Internet Explorer but the video demo was enough to see that it was a very handy tool.
    Not impressed with ipl2 when using the above search terms. It has an American bias (not surprisingly)but the website I was directed to ‘Gallipoli: a short story’ was nothing short of woeful. Lengthy, poorly written, not edited and no referencing. If ipl2 is managed by librarians & teachers then they need to do their homework before putting a link to such sites.
    Though Science and mathematics are not my strong points I thougt Wolfram had potential. Even with the terms ‘gallipoli’ and ‘gallipoli 1915’ I got info such as a 1915 calendar, notable events in 1915, the Turkish pronunciation and the weather for that region.

  3. Sandra says:

    Oops, forgot to comment on Bibme. We use the Harvard (Author Date) referencing system at our school so Bibme would not be much use to us. However it’s certainly simple and easy to use. I must admit I think it’s important for students to enter the bibliographic info (even for a book) so they understand the components and order required for a reference list or bibliography. If it’s all done for them what are they learning?

  4. Megan says:

    Like the look of Bing but was initially disappointed with its commercilalcontent – first 2 sites shown were ‘buy’ sites, however other references were great. Instagrok looked exciting but when I saw something I liked (a virtual temple) I had a ‘devil of a job finding it’. Wolfram is good for ‘sciencey’ type things – looked up planet distances etc and it didn’t disappoint.

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