Google It & Cut-Paste Research

Research in four easy steps:

1) Google it  2) Cut  3) Paste  4) Hand-in

Sound familiar?

Research is a complex skill that involves a variety of competences including critical and strategic thinking. Unfortunately too many of our students lack the necessary skills to do independent research. They cut and paste not because they’re lazy (most of them) but because they’ve never been explicitly taught the ins and outs of how to properly research a topic. They often just use Wikipedia or the first site that Google offers up. Why take the time to process information when Google does it in the blink of an eye? Why think when the computer does it for you?

Students need to understand how to paraphrase information and record page references/sources. They need to learn how to properly cite sources. Knowing how to highlight quotations and ensuring that they’re accurate and easily found is another aspect of good research. Effective note taking skills are also a must. In general, students know that plagiarism is wrong and something to be avoided, but they don’t know exactly what it is or what it specifically looks like. Same goes for copyright. To some though, it’s no big deal. They take their chances and hope they won’t get caught. If we want our students to become capable researchers, we have to teach them this process:


Steps to replace the cut and paste approach to research are: 1) Look for information from at least three sources  2) Cite the sources in full (including URLs) 3) Summarize what each source says 4) Explain what you think based on the information you’ve found.


  • SweetSearch A student-friendly search engine.
  • Copyright Confusion Wiki: A one-stop shop for all things copyright and fair use.
  • How to Do Research Another take on the research process.
  • Symbaloo A bookmarking tool through which students can bookmark sites.
  • Diigo  Bookmark sites, highlight right on the site, share bookmarks with peers.
  • EasyBib An online citation and organizing tool.
  • Flickr Find copyright-free images with Creative Commons licenses.
  • Search Creative Commons Find Creative Commons content on popular sites.
  • Kathy Schrock  Links for evaluating websites and applications

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