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Why You can’t “Just Google It!”

Why “Just googling it still doesn’t always work!”

At my school library a few days ago I was researching a topic for a report due in my communications theory class. Due to the complexity of the topic I realized I might need to swallow my pride and ask for help. I did what any university student would do, walked up to consult with one of the librarians, standing behind a large dark wooden counter, to ask how to find something specific. I was looking for some information about the Spiral of Silence communication theory and needed some advice on which database to look into to conduct this type of research. The A-Z database list contained so many databases that I found myself overwhelmed.

Arriving at the counter I became overwhelmed. I felt  intimidated by the enormous size of the three floor structure. But, necessity overruled my intimidation and I became motivated. I approached the desk. I was greeted cheerily. With my laptop in my hand I pointed to the difficulty I had while looking through the A-Z list of databases to locate the correct one for my chosen topic. The very first answer I received was shocking. The paid librarian suggested that I “Just Google It” as if all my troubles would be whisked away by the purity and ease that a simple search engine offered to me. She seemed as though she had offered me a thousand dollars worth of advice at absolutely no cost to me but my time.

Here in lies the first and hopefully most glaring problem. Google Inc, is a giant corporation whose stock is among the widely sought after in the world today. Google’s main revenue stream is from advertising. I will not even bother to cite that statement, because it is obvious and in plain sight that when you google anything at all, their are both paid and unpaid search results coupled by the Wikipedia articles that are publicly edited. This logically leads me to my grave concerns about researching any topic by just googling it. How could I trust the information?

After attempting to Google it, I found myself having to sort through search results to find information written from credible sources and not just a hack writer with a blog article. I knew that Wikipedia, from my experience was editable by anyone and could not possibly have the information I needed. If you follow this link you too can edit absolutely any article on wikipedia and forever leave your own mark in the annals of history.

Next comes the collegiate links. I suppose in this day and age, most college students in the country are putting more and more research papers online. After all, the whole world could see the wonderful papers done by students in the college and possibly attract new students to the enrollment center as well. Or at least that’s what we’re led to believe. In all honesty I don’t think it’s legal to put a student paper online anyway. Nonetheless, there they were. Again, I wasn’t looking for research already summarized by someone else. How many times can the same information be summarized before losing its complete meaning and purpose?

Disappointed, with my MacBook Pro in hand, I asked a second librarian how I could obtain usable research about my chosen topic, Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann’s Spiral of Silence. I was practically heartbroken at the second response I received, primarily due to the overwhelming, increasing number of thousands of dollars I owe to this institution of higher learning. I took special care this time to preface my question. I parroted the statement that I received from the last librarian before asking my question. I began the question with, “The last librarian said Just Google it” and then I went into my question about how to find information for my research paper. Her reaction stunned me.

She looked just as confused as I was. She stared right through me, stared into my eyes as if to verify that there was any signs of noticeable brain activity going on inside me. So I did the same and saw nothing. Then, she proceeded to quell my moment of perceived ignorance with a little chat. Like the kind of talking to that is received when you get pulled over by a State Trooper. As if I had no idea how fast I was going. The topic of my personal chat, as you probably guessed by the length of this article, was in fact aptly donned “ The wondrous power of Google.” Honestly, I had never felt like dropping out of continuing education faster in all the years prior of attending college. Usually it took e a few minutes to erase any thoughts of consequential thinking over the money I was to pay back.

I couldn’t stand listening any more, I cut her off. I said calmly, as if to best protect her reputation as a University Librarian and of course not to cause any feelings of public embarrassment, “Why do you think I came to the Library in the first place, could I not have just googled it at home?” I was shocked. She then recommended me to visit a specialist in the field of Librarian and sent me to a third and most helpful woman. Not hiding behind any large wooden four foot structure, sat a lady right when you walk in who was currently busy helping someone find something. I thought, “gee this is it, if this doesn’t work, I am going to e-mail the Dean and see what the problem really is.”

Low and behold I was impressed. This woman knew exactly how to use the A-Z database search to locate any topic about any subject and helped me in under 5 minutes. I was really impressed. It reminded me of the amazing quality of help I received while I attended Northampton Community College. I’d be willing to bet my entire education on the fact that even though the Northampton Library is a tiny spec compared to the enormity of the three floor building at East Stroudsburg University, that the librarians at NCC could out perform the current team at ESU with staggering odds. I went from a library that could only fit maybe 15 chairs at NCC, that could assist anyone with anything, to a building on ESU campus that sat hundreds of boisterous students and was running at sadly only one third their expected operating level.

“Just Googling It” especially for school research projects, is one of the absolute worst ways to find anything valuable to you or your GPA. Sure, you could get lucky and find something on the first try, but why even chance it. It could take hours of fondling around on google to find anything. Why not go directly to the source that wrote the article in the first place. With so many writers and so many advertisements it is almost impossible to find anything of any educational value anymore on the internet. Even Google Scholar misses the mark with its weird samples of actual books and a pay funnel to obtain the hard copy. Why go to Google at all to research any topic? If I were a professor I would not accept any sources other than that found through the school library’s database searches.

If you are an ESU student needing to perform research for a paper please go to the ESU Library Database. I truly hope this article will shed some light on doing research online for a school paper with proper sources that are cited. And I hope that someone in the administration reads this and makes sure to educate the appropriate staff.

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