Search Engines & Indexes:


  1. Think about what you are looking for before you start. Quick answer, article, period source, etc.
  2. Use several engines
  3. Try different keywords
  4. Use the most scholarly keywords you can
  5. Use boolean or other search operators (+ to require, " " for phrases, and, not, etc.)
  6. Reverse Linking search (link:URL) for good sites: people who link to good sites may be good sites too!

Evaluating websites:

  1. Authority: who did this? Do they have any credentials? Do they cite their sources? Are their sources reputable?
  2. Accuracy: Is the information reliable? Are there a lot of errors? Has anyone verified it? How important are any errors?
  3. Objectivity: Are the authors trying to prove a point or an opinion? Are they biased one way or the other? Look for 'trigger words' which indicate an opinion is being expressed or imposed on the material.
  4. Currency: is this site updated regularly? Even though not much has changed in the Middle Ages themselves in the last five years, scholarship varies and evolves. In the SCA, scholarship is evolving faster than cold viruses.
  5. Audience: who is this intended for? Scholarly papers will be much more complex than general works: works for kids, the general public may elide over things. A gaming site will have much less need for truth and accuracy than, say, the homepage of the Ansteorran Cook's Guild.
  6. How complete is this?

More information about search engines:

Search Engine Tutorial
How to prepare your basic search and search it in four different databases; other types of searching. By Deb Flanagan.
Finding Information on the Internet
From UC Berkley's library.

(Last updated: July 30, 2008 )