Clued up! Online skills for the 21st Century student


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Using this site

The middle section of each page introduces the topic and contains videos and slideshows, both from our students here at London Met and from around the web, designed to get you thinking...

In the right-hand column you'll find Practical Steps you can take and further reading and advice which you might find useful in Read more about it.

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The eight links above cover all the aspects of this website. Please bookmark and revisit the site, as we are constantly adding new materials and information.


What should you think about when searching for information?

Does anyone NOT use Google to search for information online? There’s no doubt that Google’s a useful tool, but when you’re looking for academic information and research for your studies, is it the best tool to use? Many students seem to think they’re pretty good at tracking down the most useful and relevant sources of information for their essays and reports, but ask a few lecturers and you might hear a different story.

Knowledge is power! Did you know that as a university student you have access to an incredible wealth of knowledge online? Your university subscribes to academic journals and databases which simply aren’t available (or are very expensive) if you’re not enrolled in a Higher Education institution. That’s just one reason why learning how to search for information through your university Library is essential!

Your library probably has lots of good resources, and people, whose aim is to help you find that quality academic information you need. Use them! Even if it’s a bit tricky learning how to use databases or access journal articles to start with, it will soon pay off. If you’re a London Met student, visit the Library Matters pages in Weblearn to start learning….(you may need to provide your Weblearn Username and Password). If not, visit your institution’s own Library pages to find out more.



In this video some London Metropolitan students talk about the search strategies they use online.


How to evaluate online information

A few years ago, a report carried out by University College London (commissioned by the British Library and JISC) looked at, among other things, the ability of young people to find and evaluate information online. The report pointed out that, just because the current ‘Google generation’ grew up in a technology-rich environment, we should not assume that students are all good at finding and evaluating information online, or using online search tools and databases.

Although there are undoubtedly some students who have become experts at locating reliable and useful information online, there are many others, perhaps the majority, who still do not really know what to look for, or how to look for it. Of course, Google can be very useful, but effective searching strategies need to be learnt, so spend some time looking at the resources on this page and learn how to impress your tutors and make your subject librarian dance around the library singing ‘Hallelujah’!

Practical Steps you can take

· Take an online assessment of your information searching skills (for example, Self-Assessment: Finding Information from the Open University) and improve your search techniques.

· Get to know the Advanced Search features of Google and use limiting search criteria such as or filetype:pdf to narrow down and improve your results. Learn simple search operators and understand the use of Search Tools.

· Google Scholar can be useful to help you limit your search to more academic sources. However, it does not always return useful or usable results. For a really useful tip, look at this presentation from one of our London Met Academic Liaison Librarians on how to use Google Scholar more effectively. (You'll need to be a LondonMet student logged into Weblearn to view)

· Learn how to evaluate the quality of online information by taking a tutorial such as the Internet Detective. It's also worth looking at some of the subject specific tutorials.

· Make sure you have an effective tool for saving bibliographic information from the sources you find. (See Make Referencing Easy)

· Learn how to evaluate online information with this tutorial from Leeds University Library. Another good place to learn about types of information and how to evaluate these is the University of the West of England iSkill Zone.


Read more about it

Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future - a Cyber briefing (UCL, British Library, Jisc)

The Open University has produced an in-depth guide to skills in Accessing, Finding & Reviewing Information which they call Safari - an expedition through the information world

Cranfield university has created some excellent online tutorials which will help you develop your searching and evaluation skills.



Searching the internet effectively is a skill that needs to be learnt. Taking a bit of time to enhance your skill will pay dividends in the long term.