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Curtis Institute of Music

John de Lancie Library

Rock Online Catalog

Google searching--tips and tricks: Evaluating online resources

This guide provides tips, tricks, and other information to help you use Google search more effectively at Curtis and beyond.

Types of resources

Primary resources—orignal, from the same time period as an event, by people who were there (usually)

  • Immediate, personal, contemporary, detailed
  • Examples: News story from the time, oral histories, eyewitness account or video of an event, art works, original scientific research

Secondary resources—about an event, from a different time period, by people not directly involved (usually)

  • Reflective, analytical, critical
  • Examples: Book or essay recounting events, scholar’s essay interpreting meaning, news commentary, scientific review

Tertiary resources—reference works that compile or summarize primary and secondary sources

  • General, summarizing, broad
  • Examples: encyclopedias, dictionaries

No single source is objective, even if it claims to be objective or is written in an objective or authoritative style. All sources have a point of view whether or not that POV is obvious at first glance. It is up to you, the reader, to determine that point of view.

Open Access Resources

Lists of Open Access Music Resources

Digital Resources for Musicology

Scholarly Music Research Journals on the Web (free access)--from University of Richmond

Open Access Research Journals --from the University of Michigan

Music Research Resources Online--from UCLA (Resources without the key icon are available to you)

Tools for Locating and Obtaining Open Access Sources

Open Access Button--Add a button to your browser that alerts you to open access content or how to get it.

Unpaywall--Similar to Open Access Button

Ask yourself

Questions to ask once you have selected a source:

  1. What am I looking at? Is it a blog post? A newspaper article? A photograph? An excerpt from an online book? Is it primary, secondary, or tertiary?
  2. Who wrote this? (You may need to dig around to find out.)
  3. Where is it published? A website (.com, .org, .edu)? Was it republished or reposted from somewhere else? Can I find out where it was originally published?
  4. When was it originally published? Is that relevant?

Double check

Double-check all information

  • Search for the author's name elsewhere on the Internet. Can you corroborate the author information?
  • Who is the author? From what social locations does the author speak (occupation, gender, race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, reilgion, education level)? In what ways might these locations affect the point of view?
  • Can you find at least one other source that corroborates the content?

Use the bibliography

  • What sources does the work cite, if any?
  • Are those credible, according to all the same standards?
  • Does the author use them ethically, or are they misquoted or quoted out of context?

Check your facts!