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LIFE & TIMES OF JESUS: General Searching Tips

This LibGuide is to assist with your historical research into the life and times of Jesus.


If you can't find what you need below, and you'd like more detailed help finding or narrowing search terms, using boolean logic, etc. be sure to check out the Search Term LibGuide.

HOT TIPS: Finding Best Keyword/Phrases/Terms To Use in Your Search

One of the most important aspects of research is finding the right search keyword, term or phrase. Don't keep trying the same one if you're not getting the results you are seeking. Having term options and finding the right phrasing is often the difference between a successful search or a great deal of wasted time and frustration.


  1. Use your teacher's suggestions if any were given.
  2. Check out the tips found under the "SEARCHING" tab in any Padua LibGuide. 
  3. Write out a brief description of your research topic (preferably phrased in a question you'd like to answer).
    • Identify 2-4 important words from your question, which should be considered key concepts.
    • For each key concept, make a list of other words with the same or related meanings (which will be your keywords/key phrases).
    • Look to the following tips for HOW to find those keywords/key phrases.
  4. Slowly start to type the word into Google and look at the suggested phrasing that is under the word you are typing.
  5. Use a thesaurus to find synonyms.
  6. Try keyword/search term help sites if available. 
  7. Test your keywords/phrases by searching with them in databases and websites (.edu, .gov, .org sites preferably).
    • Remember the power of the "and" (see the following examples):
      • NBA AND salaries AND fairness
      • students AND online classes AND learning
    • Also try out the "or" (see the following examples):
      • vegan OR vegetarian
      • teens OR adults AND social networking AND depression
  8. Try combining keyword phrases while searching (texting accidents and teenagers), and write down the combinations that offer the best results.
  9. Keep track of keyword/phrase successes by handwriting or typing them on a doc, because you will start to lose track.
    • Too many results, try more or narrower keywords.
    • To few results, try broader keywords.
    • Remember to try combining your keywords as well (texting accidents and teenagers).
  10. When you find results in databases and articles, slow down and view the author-supplied keywords or phrases (often at bottom of page) or subject headings, etc. and add those words to your list.

Google Search Tips

For academic research, teachers/professors will discourage or not even permit a Google search, but if you must, at least do a better Google search by trying to stick with .edu, org, and .gov sites...and by putting your sources through the CRAP test (by checking for (C)currency, (R)reliability, (A)authority & (P)purpose/pov). You want to be sure you're looking at a reliable source. Here are some additional tips:

  1. If you only want academic sites, which is highly advised for academic research (and not .com - commercial sites), type the following into the search box:  vegitarianism .org .edu .gov  (see additional info in box)
  2. ‚ÄčQuotation marks will always help Google narrow down your topic, so type the following: "Cuban Missile Crisis" (see additional info in box)
  3. Trying to find information in a certain time period? Use a range of numbers to search. For example, you would type the following:  teen and texting accidents and 2015...2017
  4. Use the words AND and OR to your advantage  (see additional info in box)
  5. Consider a Wild Card (*) if you can’t remember a term. You might get lucky.  For example: Put in * Hitchcock or * Bruins + Parma, OH if you don’t remember a school’s name along with whatever else you might know.
  6. If you want to search a specific site for information, here's how you do it. Let's say you want to search the topic of euthanasia, but you know that you really like, so that's the website you'd like to search. You would put the following in your Google search: euthanasia
  7. Use a "-" sign to eliminate things. You want to know about bass guitar...not bass the fish, so you would type into the search box the following:  bass -fish  (see additional info in box)
  8. Do you love a particular site and wish you could find more sites like that one? Do a similar site search by typing the following:  (be sure to have the domain (like .com or .org) listed with the site's name). 


Google Scholar Search Tips

  • GOOGLE SCHOLAR:  Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research. However, you may encounter some issues:
    • Google Scholar Issues:( If your topic is scholarly(academic), you will find an abundance of resources on Google Scholar; HOWEVER…the results will often be abstracts or names of books or articles (some of which are only available for purchase). For this reason, this tool is very useful at the college level, because all those resources and databases would be available via your college libraries. At this school, we only have access to specific databases. So…(see next point).
    • BIG GOOGLE SCHOLAR TIP: You may encounter free articles, however, so for your purposes, only look at pdf’s. Here's the BIG TIP: to access and see to if the article is viewable or downloadable for free, click on the actual pdf link and not on the name of the article itself. Good luck!!!

Database Versus Website

Internet sources (websites) may be okay, but databases guarantee reviewed content that is evaluated for authority and accuracy, which means you have direct (and free) access to current, quality, and scholarly information (that comes complete with citations), so consider exploring "DATABASES: List of All Padua Databases first, using the above tab (keep in mind that many teachers require them for research).  Also keep in mind that publishing dates and authors/publishers are included on any quality source.  If you decide to go with a general website instead of a database, at least check it for validity, which you can do using **the SIFT Method or CRAAP test (see info on this page).

The SIFT Method (by Mike Caulfield)

While there are many ways to evaluate an article or website that you've found online, the SIFT Method, developed by WSU Vancouver's Mike Caulfield is being praised in the Academic world for its simplicity and effectiveness. Mike Caulfield, Washington State University digital literacy expert, has helpfully condensed key fact-checking strategies into a short list of four moves, or things to do to quickly make a decision about whether or not a source is worthy of your attention. It is referred to as the “SIFT” method. 

Logo indicating steps of SIFT method

The following information was taken from Mike Caulfield's Sift - The Four Moves



Logo for Stop Stop  

When you first arrive at a webpage, article, etc. ask yourself whether you know the website or source of the information, and what the reputation of both the claim and the website is. If you don’t have that information, use "lateral moves" to get a sense of what you’re looking at. This means doing exploration, perhaps in another browser window, before you read the resource that you found.

Don’t read it or share media until you know what it is.

If you are doing scholarly research, you will probably want to chase down individual claims in an article and independently verify them. If you just want to repost, read an interesting story, or get a high-level explanation of a concept, it’s probably good enough to find out whether the publication is reputable.

Please keep in mind that both sorts of investigations are equally useful. Quick and shallow investigations will form most of what we do on the web. We get quicker with the simple stuff in part so we can spend more time on the stuff that matters to us. But in either case, stopping periodically and reevaluating our reaction or search strategy is key.


Tip 1:  After you begin to use the lateral moves it can be easy to go down a rabbit hole, going off on tangents only distantly related to your original task. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed in your fact-checking efforts, STOP and take a second to remember your purpose.

Tip 2: Want to learn more about "lateral reading" as it relates to media literacy. Take a look at WSU Vancouver's Mike Caulfield's short book "Web literacy for student fact-checkers (and other people who care about facts."


Logo for investigate the source Investigate the Source

The key idea here is to know what you're reading *before* you read it.

This doesn't mean you have to do a Pulitzer prize-winning investigation into a source before you engage with it. But if you're reading a piece on economics by a Nobel prize-winning economist, you should know that before you read it. Conversely, if you're watching a video on the many benefits of milk consumption that was put out by the dairy industry, you probably want to know that as well. All of this will assist you in contextualizing the information that you're reading.

This doesn't mean the Nobel economist will always be right and that the dairy industry shouldn't be trusted. But knowing the expertise and agenda of the source is crucial to your interpretation of what they say. Taking sixty seconds to figure out where it is from *before* reading will help you decide if it is worth your time, and if it is, help you to better understand its significance and trustworthiness.


Logo for find better coverage Find Better Coverage 

Sometimes you don’t care about the particular article or video that reaches you. You care about the claim the article is making. You want to know if it is true or false. You want to know if it represents a consensus viewpoint, or if it is the subject of much disagreement.

In this case, your best strategy may be to ignore the source that reached you, and look for trusted reporting or analysis on the claim. If you get an article that says koalas have just been declared extinct from the Save the Koalas Foundation, your best bet might not be to investigate the source, but to go out and find the best source you can on this topic, or, just as importantly, to scan multiple sources and see what the expert consensus seems to be. In these cases we encourage you to “find other coverage” that better suits your needs — more trusted, more in-depth, or maybe just more varied. In lesson two we’ll show you some techniques to do this sort of thing very quickly.

Do you have to agree with the consensus once you find it? Absolutely not! But understanding the context and history of a claim will help you better evaluate it and form a starting point for future investigation.


Logo for trace claims Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context

Much of what we find on the internet has been stripped of context. Maybe there’s a picture that seems real but the caption could be misleading. Maybe a claim is made about a new medical treatment based on a research finding — but you’re not certain if the cited research paper really said that.

In these cases you have to trace the claim, quote, or media back to the source, so you can see it in it’s original context and get a sense if the version you saw was accurately presented.

VIDEO GUIDES: For more information and videos > The SIFT Method

Caulfield, M. (2019, October 19). SIFT (The Four Moves)

The Website Test (Fondly Known as the CRAAP Test)

While the SIFT Method is often found to be more effective, you may encounter the CRAAP test, which is also useful.  Here's a chart that shows you how to evaluate the website (source:

The Minimum for Checking Resources

Using the SIFT Method or even the CRAAP test if the goal for evaluating resources. That being said...


  1. Look at that URL (to see what type of page it is and why it was created...see more about this above).
  2. Look at the domain (to see if it is a .com, .gov, .edu, etc., which also provides hints as to the site's purpose, whether to inform, persuade, sell, etc.)
  3. Look at the publisher/author and its/his/her credentials (to see who is responsible for the information on the site; no author is a big red flag).
  4. Look for a date of publication (to see if the currency of the information makes the material worthy of being a resource).
  5. Look for additional signs of quality/academic information (some signs may be a Works Cited, or footnotes, or additional links/resources, etc.).
  6. Based on the above information, determine whether or not the particular source is worthy of being included in your research.  (Note:  This is why you are frequently being referred to databases.  #1-#5 has already been completed for you by professionals who have reviewed the information for authority and currency...and have deemed the information current, accurate, and scholarly.  Databases are great for research!!!!)

How To Access Just .ORG and .EDU and .GOV Sources (Better Website Choices)

Q:  My teacher told me that I’m only allowed to use .edu and .org and .gov sites for this paper.  How do I do that?

A:  In the search (query) box, put “your search term/phrase" and .edu .org .gov  This will force those sites to appear first in your results list. WOW!!!!


How To Read a Website's URL (Address) & Basic Helpful Hints


  • Teachers will often tell you to use reliable and academic/scholarly websites for your research, and this often means you should avoid using .com sites.  This is because .com means “commercial” (which is a paid site that is most likely a biased, for profit site). 
  • What’s the difference with all these sites? The domain type gives an indication to the author of the page, and that’s important! This helps you determine authenticity and reliability.  The domain type is a clue in determining who is responsible for the information on that page.  To help you find a credible sources, you should know some basic domain types and which are more reliable than others.
  • Most reliable domains/websites (though you should always be a discerning consumer of information and question everything):  .edu (an educational domain, usually a college or university) and/or .org (a U.S. non-profit organization)
  • Most likely reliable domains/websites (though you should be aware of their potential for bias):  .gov (a U.S. governmental/non-military site) and/or .mil (a military site/agency) and/or .museum (suffix used by museums)
  • Least reliable domains/websites (due to known and common bias):  .com (a commercial, for-profit business site) and/or .net (a network, internet service provider, or other for-profit organization) and/or .biz (a for-profit business site) and/or .pro (a suffix used by professional who are usually privately advertising for themselves), etc.
  • Avoid using personal/privately created websites: Personal websites created by relatively "unknown" individuals are considered unacceptable for academic/scholarly research...because of the strong potential for bias, the lack of information on the author, etc.

    How do I know if I’m on someone’s personal page? Here are some hints!

    • Look out for personal names included in the URL/website address:’  
    • Look out for identifying words like "homepage" or "students" or "faculty" in tehe URL/website address:  http://www.homepage.padua/students/it’  
    • Look out for symbols such as "~" or "%" because those types of symbols are used to identify personal pages):  OR  http://www.beabruin%/
    • (Also watch out for other well-known personal/public pages such as wikis of any type, Angelfire, GeoCities, etc.)

Boolean Logic Hint #1 - The Quotation Mark Search

So instead of just typing: superhero costume for dogs (which will pull up everything about dogs as well as all things costume as well as all things superhero), type: "superhero dog costumes"


Boolean Logic Hint #2 - The AND Search

Boolean Logic Hint #3 - The OR Search

Boolean Logic Hint #4 - The EXCLUSION Search

The - symbol will exclude particular terms from your search.  For example, you might want to look up bass in regard to musicians but not fish, so you would put in...

                           bass -fish


(Note: Unfortunately, this technique works when searching websites, but it does not usually work for searching images.)





Specific Resources

If you need specific types of resources, like maps or polls, etc., you can use the .ORG search mentioned above to help you search out those specific resources.  See the following screenshot (which shows how this individual wants information about poverty, but is specifically looking for polls and maps that contain that information).

Reverse Image Searching

So you found an image somewhere, and now can't remember where it came from. Here are options for how to do a Reverse Image search to find the image's originating source: