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STA 151 D. Bartlett: Using the Web

Evaluating websites

AUTHORITY

Who is the author or institution?

Does it include author’s bio or information about the institution?

What is the source’s authority, can they be contacted, are they reputable?

Check the domain of the url.  

.com (commercial) -- may be trying to sell a product

.edu (educational) -- can be serious research or just student class assignments

.gov (government) -- usually dependable

.mil (military) -- usually dependable

.net (network) -- may provide services to customers

.org (organization) -- often nonprofit institution

 

PURPOSE

Who is the audience and what is the purpose of the information?

Is the page intended for the general public or for a specific group (e.g. scholars or children etc.)?

Is the purpose clearly stated?

Is the purpose to inform, explain, persuade, sell a product or advocate a cause?

What’s the tone of the page? [serious? humorous? parody?]

 

TIMELINESS

How current is the information?

Is there a date of when the page was created or last update?

Is some of the information obviously out of date?

Do the links work?

ACCURACY

Is the content accurate and objective?

Are there biases (political, cultural, religious or institutional)?

Is the organization reputable?

Can the facts be checked/verified?

If the information has been copied from other sources is this acknowledged?

What do others say about the author or organization?

Cookie Crumbs

Use the reference or bibliography of one article to help you identify other related articles on your topic. We call this using "cookie crumbs".  This is also the best tactic to use with Wikipedia articles. Citing Wikipedia as a source in your research is not considered good practice. But using the list of sources at the bottom of the Wikipedia article can be very helpful.

Web Search Strategies in Plain English

Domain Search in Google

Try doing a special search in Google that will narrow your results to only those sites published with a certain domain ending. 

Google Scholar

Try using the search box below to search Google Scholar for results from scholarly sources on the Internet.

Connecting Google Scholar to JCC databases