Search Strategies

Educational Databases, Evaluation, and Citation Tools

MEL library

Putting theory into practice and teaching good Internet search strategies is often a challenge. Knowing how to evaluate the information we find on the Internet is critical. Most searchers use a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo to find hits. The following section links to educational databases that provide reliable and valid information while saving search time. This section also talks about how to evaluate a website to get the most accurate information, and the importance of citing sources.    

Michigan eLibrary

Michigan E-libaryCheck out what's new for educators.

Michigan eLibrary is an educational portal available to any Michigan school, library or Michigan resident. All schools have access to this through their school library. Some resources available in MeL are: eFull text magazines and newspapers, primary source documents, practice testing for GED, ACT, Careers, SAT, and much more. MEL has 40+ databases where searchers can read full text articles from magazines and newspapers; find current reference sources; use advanced search functions; cite sources. The advantage of MeL is that the information is valid and reliable. The search results are more likely to be on target as compared to a search performed within a search engine like Yahoo or Google.

The MeL website has many resources. The best place to start are the databases. Make sure to check out the MeL Gateways as you peruse MeL.

Many of the research databases in MeL have a read-aloud feature or the ability to download as an mp3 file for teachers and students who prefer to listen or have a reading disability. Some even have a translation option to translate to a different language. If you see the following next to an article try them out.


The image above shows the example of database functionality, including the One Drive, Google Drive, translator, citation, send, download, print, link, and highlighting/annotation features. 


You can also use the tools shown in the image above once you locate content, such as translate, change the font size, listen to the text being read as audio, or connecting to Drives, email, and download features. 

NOTE: This service is funded by the Federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) via the institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library of Michigan. MeL databases are accessible to all Michigan residents with a valid driver's license or State ID number when accessing off your school's campus. It will often recognize you if you are accessing from a location in Michigan and you will not need your driver's license or state ID.

Web Evaluation

Why Evaluate?
You have just learned how to use Michigan eLibrary a collection of databases which contain valid and reliable information. We do know that you and your students will use search engines such as Google for research, but how do you know when the information is accurate and reliable?

Good research strategies include:

  • using multiple sources of data
  • assessing your resources by evaluating for accuracy, bias, validity, and reliability
  • always citing sources
  • using data collection strategies that help you meet your research needs

BASIC, CARRDSS, and CRAP: Frameworks for Critical Evaluation

Bogus and hoax websites, as well as fake news, are a source of fun and entertainment for many. However, you may not want to be on the receiving end of laughter when presenting research. In order to not be taken in by one of these sites, it is important to understand how to evaluate.

Joyce Valenza, nationally acclaimed media specialist and super-librarian, shared out the BASIC and CARRDSS systems. Another popular framework is the CRAP (or CRAPP) Test.  
BASIC system     CARRDSS system
crap test purdue

Check out the Purdue Northwest library's fake news and CRAP test resources, explore videos and more CRAP at the Colorado Community College site, or visit the Digital Citizenship Utah site. 

Review the Bogus & Hoax PowerPoint for an introduction to Snopes, Joyce Valenza's BASIC and CARRDSS systems, and the fact vs. fiction phenomenon of web evaluation.

Check out All About Explorers, the Northwest Pacific Tree Octopus site, and this government site from NASA. Critically review the website using BASIC, CARRDSS, or CRAP.  Which of these sites are hoaxes?

Safe Searching

KidzSearch uses Google Safe Searching to filter out inapproproate sites for children. This resource can be set as the home page on any browser (home or school). We have students use this search engine in the 21things4students Search Strategies section. For a short video tutorial on how to use KidzSearch click here.

Online Citation Makers

Online Citation Makers

Visit the TechTools4Writing site to explore the bibliographic tools and citation makers listed in the picture. The citation makers automatically generate citations in MLA and APA format.