More on "Googling"...

Study after study of students, teachers, and information service providers (YOU!) demonstrates that the majority of homework assignments, research, and yes, reference questions begin with an Internet search engine. Why? It’s quick, and it’s easy. And while we certainly can’t deny the advantages of Google to find information quickly and efficiently, far too often our research both starts and ends with a search engine.

The overarching problem with exclusive use of search engines to find answers to questions is that we are not always aware of the limits under which we are working. Research shows that a search engine like Google will retrieve only 16% of the information available to us online, while an additional 54% can still be found in e-Resources (Devine and Egger-Sider 2009).

In fact, general misunderstanding as to the limitations of search engines, coupled with difficulties:
  • Discerning ads from 'real' information
  • Evaluating online information
  • Determining the appropriateness of websites
... has lead many teachers to discourage students from using “the Internet” as a research tool altogether. How often have we all heard "my teacher says I'm not allowed to use the Internet for this project... I have to use a book..."? Not only do these misconceptions make our job as information professionals difficult (how can you promote a product when people generally don't understand what it is?), but what a world of information  students and researchers are missing when the Internet in it's entirety is discounted as a legitimate information source (Devine and Egger-Sider 2009).

So what exactly does all this mean?

Devine, Jane and Francine Egger-Sider. Going Beyond Google: The Invisible Web in Learning and Teaching. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2009.