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InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

GSHU 199 FYS History of Baseball (Hunnicutt): Algorithmic Literacy

This guide will help with your research

Google's Algorithms

Definition of Algorithms: A set of instructions that decides what content you see, and what order you see it.

What is Google useful for:

  1. Recent news articles (however, remember the algorithms will affect your news results)
  2. Purchasing decisions
  3. Known items like a person or organization
  4. It can be a good starting point for your research, but you shouldn’t stop with Google.

Major issue with Google's Algorithms:  It’s not possible to have a complete understanding of algorithms because of the lack of transparency.

Summary of how Google's Algorithms work:

  • Every time you click on a website, you are telling Google, “Good job!” so it will keep showing you the same results
  • Personalized: You and your friend can type the same search terms into different computers and receive different results
    • Fast loading websites can appear at the top of your search results
    • Not neutral: you are placed in a filter bubble
    • There could be several relevant websites that aren’t appearing because Google has filtered them out

Limitation for academic research:

  • You need to locate sources that support each position

Database Filters

Databases have Filters!

  • Databases are more difficult to search than Google, BUT you will be able to see all of the published information on a topic rather than having information filtered out by Google.

WorldCat (the search box on the main library home page used to search for books and other library materials):

Here are some of the filters used by WorldCat:

  • Format (book, article, streaming video, etc.)
  • Publication Date
  • Subject terms
  • Relevancy based on the best match of keywords 

EBSCO (Collections of articles like Academic Search Complete)

How does EBSCO sort search results?

  • Results are organized by the relevancy of the keywords you search with.
  • You can also search by date.
  • You will receive better search results if you use some of the subject terms

Important EBSCO Filters:

  • Limit results to scholarly (peer reviewed journals)
  • Publication Date

The library has specialized databases:

We also subscribe to specialized databases that grant access to articles on specific topic, streaming films, historic primary sources, and raw statistical data just to name a few.

Pro Tip:

Databases are imperfect in sorting results and sometimes the best results for your topic might appear in the 2nd or 3rd screens.

Fact Checking Tips

Fact checking tips (or how to avoid the filter bubble)

  • Vertical reading involves scrolling through the articles or webpage
    • Checking links and references is important, but keep in mind that the author selected these sources to support their argument
  • Horizontal reading is checking outside sources for other perspectives on a topic