1. The first step in using a SEARCH ENGINE like Google, is to parse out your research question to come up with effective SEARCH TERMS.Take your research question and:
1.1. Circle key words.
1.2. Cross out unnecessary words.
1.3. Come up with alternative phrasing.
2. Remember to use good search skills:
2.1. Every word matters.
2.2. Order matters.
2.3. Capitalization does not matter.
2.4. Puncutuation usually does not matter.
The first thing you should look at when considering whether or not a website might be useful is the URL (the web address). The most typical COMMON DOMAINS (the last three letters in the main part of the address) that you will see are:
.com (commercial website - their purpose is generally to sell you something - generally not good for scholarly research)
.org (generally a not for profit organization - BUT wikipedia is a .org and generally not a good place to do scholarly research)
.gov ( a government website)
.edu (an educational website)
You can do an ADVANCED SEARCH in which you limit your search by the COMMON DOMAIN. An ADVANCED SEARCH will also allow you to search by date, language, and even reading level. Type in your search terms into the Google SEARCH box. You will see a gear on the right hand side of the screen. When you click this gear, one of your options will be ADVANCED SEARCH.
3. Please note that through GOOGLE SCHOLAR you can access lots of scholarly resources on your topic as well. Here you will find entire books that are in the common domain, scholarly articles, etc. Click here to get to Google Scholar:
Check out these "Power Searching Tips" from Google WebMaster, Matt Cutt: