Finding Reliable Information

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Finding Reliable Information Online: Adventures of an Information Sleuth.

Reviews and Blurbs:

If you want to improve your own life, the lives of those around you, and the quality of life online, read (the wonderfully readable) Finding Reliable Information Online, give copies away to your friends (as I plan to do), and see if you can get it added to your local high school or college curriculum. Founded on well-researched principles and brought to life through stories we can all relate to, Leslie Stebbins’ book is a valuable contribution, a useful tool, and a sign of hope for the future.

–Howard Rheingold, former lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University.and author of NetSmart, The Virtual Community, Smart Mobs and other books

Leslie Stebbins’s book is a splendid exploration of the twists and turns that the search for information can take.  It’s lively and engaging without sacrificing depth, seriousness of purpose, or professionalism.  She uses examples that are relevant and connected to the everyday problems and questions of search while deeply engaging with a wide variety of perspectives and literature on the field, all in an entertaining and thought-provoking way.  I think a lot of people are going to find this valuable and fun to read.

–Joseph Janes, Associate Professor and Chair, MLIS Program, University of Washington Information School

Anyone who searches for information on the Internet, which is everyone, should read this book and take its advice to heart. Self-described “information extremist” Leslie Stebbins both uses the checklist approach to evaluating information and goes well beyond it by delving into the psychology of search and the nuances of experts, amateurs, and crowds. Her fun narratives about finding and evaluating scholarly and everyday information read like detective stories, and her many strategies, tips, mnemonics and lessons learned will be invaluable to students, librarians, educators, and researchers everywhere.
–Marc Meola, Assistant Professor and Information Literacy Librarian at the Community College of Philadelphia

Leslie Stebbins’ Finding Reliable Information Online is an indispensable guide for librarians and educators everywhere helping today’s students learn the critical skill of information evaluation. Using real world stories, she delivers in-depth strategies for cracking some of the Web’s thorniest credibility gaps. Once you read this book, you’ll never read a Yelp review or Airbnb listing the same way. A must-read, as entertaining as it is instructive.
–Alison J. Head, Director and Principal Research Scientist, Project Information Literacy at the Information School at the University of Washington and a Faculty Associate, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

The search for reliable information, from restaurant reviews, to health, to research findings, requires a deep understanding of the nature of information and the methodology of search. As everyone worldwide leaves the secure confines of encyclopedias and research librarians, we enter the unknown territory of the search engine and crowd-sourcing. Leslie Stebbins’ Finding Reliable Information Online provides an easy to read guided tour of the information wilderness. Built around compelling anecdotes, the solid, research-based approach is a must read map for the 21st century.
–John Richards, President, Consulting Services for Education and Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education

This is a handy and entertaining guide for anyone trying to understand how to find reliable information online…  In each chapter, Stebbins chronicles her various searches, ranging from looking for factual evidence that drinking red wine is good for you, to trying to find a good place to stay for a family vacation. Sometimes her searches are quick and successful, but others go deeper and take a much longer time, often leading to inconclusive results. It’s these inconclusive searches that are the most intriguing….I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.  –Alexandra Simons, M.D. Anderson Library, University of Houston in: Journal of Academic Librarianship

Amy is recommending a book that she has not quite finished. Why? Because other people want to read it too, so she doesn’t always find it on the shelf! This wonderful and eminently useful book as a straightforward title: Finding Reliable Information Online, but the subtitle says it all:  “Adventures of an Information Sleuth.” The author, Leslie Stebbins, is a Lexington resident and does a great job helping internet novices and pro alike become discerning users of online information. Looking for a hotel? A nice place to eat for your anniversary? Need to find health information you can trust? Stebbins, an information science professional, picks apart our breezy use of Amazon stars and Yelp reviews, revealing in an entertaining way what’s behind these ratings. Then, she shows us how anyone can, with a discriminating eye to sources and techniques, find information we can use with confidence. Cary Memorial Library Staff Picks.

goodreadsReviews from GoodReads:

This has been my lunch-time read for the past couple of weeks. A great reminder about searching in the age of information overload. In each chapter, Stebbins takes a question and goes through her process for finding the answer. Sounds boring, right? Surprisingly, it isn’t, but I AM a a librarian. At times it was repetitive with each chapter covering certain issues more than once (ex. heuristics, yes we have them, we all use them, be aware of them.). However, this also means an instructor could pull out one chapter to provide an example for a class rather than have them read the entire book. It should TOTALLY be required reading for anyone doing ANY kind of research — travel, food, science, health — it has a little something for the many types of everyday Googler (because just going to Google isn’t REALLY research therefore I cannot call them researchers). –Melissa Rochelle

It always surprises me how often I see very smart people create very bad searches online, and then decleare themselves satisfied with the questionable results they get. This book is your guide to quit doing that. This is a fairly scholarly book, so get ready for a ton of footnotes (and a rather dry introduction that may be safe to skip), but you’ll also find an array of interesting, often humorous search examples, with tips on how to find the best information and avoid the sometimes outrageous pitfalls.  —Michelle Welch

I read this for school and I had to force myself not to read ahead. I know–a book about research that I can’t put down. Maybe it was just me, but Stebbins made it all so interesting that I had to know where she was going next…as if we really were sleuths. It got a little repetitive at times (it IS a textbook after all) but I loved it anyway. Josiphine

Entertaining and enlightening. You don’t need to be a librarian or an information professional to enjoy this title. Very readable. Dateless Librarian

This is an excellent book. Informative and entertaining. It gave me many new ways to think about the way I search for information. TrudyKJP


Reviews for: Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age.

Each year one encounters new research guides. However, the Student Guide bstudent_guide_to_researchy Stebbins is worth serious attention. Living up to its intention of being essential reading (xi), it does a masterful job of integrating critical thinking skills, information sources, and database searching techniques, all in one concise paperback….[t]he Student Guide by Stebbins is the best literature guide for undergraduates that has crossed this reviewer’s desk. Highly recommended for high school, college, and public libraries.

–Reference & User Services Quarterly

This research guide seeks to clarify and simplify the overload of research options that exist, and to provide a best practices approach to discovering, evaluating, and using the best information sources, Web or print, to obtain the most appropriate information for research needs. Stebbins provides a practical step-by-step introduction to the research process and the critical role that evaluation plays….[a] highly functional, comprehensive, and straightforward research guide for today’s students. Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through graduate students; professionals/practitioners.


For the teacher-librarian, this book provides clear examples of how to prepare a just-in-time lesson on finding and evaluating information when learners are faced with a particular genre. Consideration should also be given to purchasing several copies if the teacher-librarian believes that students will profit from having a full guide….This book is worth serious consideration for those teaching advanced searching and evaluation skills at the secondary level.

–Teacher Librarian

For additional books by Leslie Stebbins see: Leslie Stebbins Author Page on Amazon