Searching the Internet

Finding online information for use in your studies

Many authoritative texts and sources of information for research and study in higher education are now available online. You may find this step-by-step list useful

Your University department

Your department may maintain recommended lists of online resources on

E-books

After doing a search for books in the Primo look out for the phrase electronic books in the list of records that have matched.

Click on the matching record to view more information and scroll down to find the link Access to full-text electronic books to view the full text of the book online.

Note that sometimes printed and electronic copies of the same title are available.

Find out more about freely available e-books.

E-journals

To find electronic journals on Voyager, always select 'Electronic Journals' in the 'Limit to' field below the Search box.

Click on the matching record to view more information and scroll down to the link Internet access to this journal via the AU Electronic Journals list

Click on the link to view the electronic coverage (the date range for which we are subscribed) and to find a link to the full text:

Note that sometimes printed and electronic subscriptions of the same title are available however they may cover different date ranges. So if you are looking for a particular article you will need to check the date to see if we have that volume/issue.

You can search for just electronic journals at AU and an A-Z listing of Open Access Journals and E-print Collections is also available.

Online databases and subject gateways

Online databases and subject gateways are best accessed from Primo Databases A-Z

Search Engines

There are a range of freely available search engines available for finding quality information sources. They include:

Unlike subject gateways there is no quality control of the content of pages retrieved via general search engines, so you must evaluate anything that you find.

Evaluating freely available information you have found on the Internet

A vast amount of information is available at your fingertips on the Internet and most of it has not undergone any kind of review process prior to publication. Can you trust that what you are reading is appropriate for study in higher education?

Consider the following factors when evaluating a web page you have found:

Authority

  • Who wrote the piece ?
  • Why did they write it and publish it on the Internet?
  • Look for brand and reputation as indications of quality
  • Check the authors' credentials e.g. are they an academic or specialist in the topic they are writing about?
  • Look for clear indication of responsibility for content and open means of communicating feedback to the authors. Often a web site will carry an "About ..." button which will provide details about who edits the pages and the motivation behind the creation of the site

Content

  • Look for peer-reviewed or quality controlled information (as found in subject gateways)
  • Double-check any information you find on web sites where anyone can post information, regardless of how "academic" the page looks
  • Look for fully cited sources of information
  • Is the source biased or impartial?
  • Look at grammar and spelling
  • Is advertising clearly differentiated from content information?

Ease of Use

  • Are there easy to use navigation elements, a site map, a search facility, RSS feeds?
  • Is there a Help option and is it useful?

Currency

  • Check when the page was last updated
  • Look for indications that the page is regularly updated
  • Beware of information that contains many broken links

Please feel free to ask for help if you are not sure about a web page you have found. There are some very convincing spoof sites on the Internet and it is better to be sure.

Internet Tutorials

There are various online tutorials available on the web to help you search more efficiently and effectively and to evaluate what you find. 

  • TONIC The Online Netskills Interactive Course
    This is an excellent interactive tutorial provided by Netskills. They advertise it as "an easy-to-understand, structured course, offering step-by-step, practical guidance on major Internet topics, ranging from basic through to advanced. The course as a whole is intended for beginners who have some familiarity with computers." The course is split into clear sections with quizzes to test competencies. Requires free registration.

  • Intute Virtual Training Suite
    The Intute Virtual Training Suite, "provides free Internet tutorials to help you learn how to get the best from the Web for your education and research."

  • The Internet Detective
    The Internet Detective is a free online tutorial that will help you develop Internet research skills for your university work.  The tutorial looks at the critical thinking required when using the Internet for research and offers practical advice on evaluating the quality of web sites.  You can work through the whole tutorial by selecting the next button at the bottom of each screen, or use the table of contents in the left margin to skip to a section.

Citation practice and avoiding plagiarism

  • If you have not already done so, please read the AU Statement on Plagiarism

  • Also ensure that you have read and understood the information provided by your department about plagiarism which is usually located in a student handbook and sometimes in departmental web pages. If you are at all unsure, check with your tutor/supervisor

  • Ensure that you meet your department’s requirements on bibliographic referencing and citation styles by referring to the advice and guidelines they supply

Tools to help you avoid plagiarism:

  • The Internet Detective
    This online tutorial explores the nature of plagiarism and provides some useful strategies for evaluating and citing online information sources.

  • EndNote and EndNote Web
    EndNote is the bibliographic referencing software available in public workstation rooms on campus at Aberystwyth University and is supported by Information Services. Use EndNote to compile, store and format references then export them as footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies into word-processed documents. EndNote Web is a free, web-hosted version of EndNote which is available to use on and off campus.

  • BlackBoard Information Skills module
    All first year students have access to the Information Services module “Brief introduction to library and computing skills” in BlackBoard, which includes an online library quiz.

  • Use high quality, authoritative, peer-reviewed information in your study and research and carefully evaluate anything else you refer to

  • You may also find the pages on the Effective Study Collection (located on level F Hugh Owen Library) useful