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Library Instruction: Using the Web

Using Websites - Interacting with Information

 

 

Use the Web to find:

  • current information, such as news, sports scores, weather, stock quotes
  • information about companies, colleges, museums, etc.
  • information from all levels of government - federal to local
  • both expert or popular opinions, and statistics
  • a well-known event or individual, literary or popular quotations, and lyrics
  • research conducted by national associations or organizations
  • online job postings, shopping, or travel services
  • phone books, dictionaries, weather, and maps
  • images, audio and video files
  • social networking services such as E-mail, Facebook, Twitter

The quality of your work at YCCC depends on the credibility of the websites you include in your bibliographies. 

It is recommended that you evaluate the web information you choose for academic use.

More on Evaluating Websites

 

 

 

 

Other questions to ask yourself when considering websites for your project:

Is the information you found answering your research question?

How did you find the website?

  •    your instructor
  •    your textbook
  •    YCCC Subject Guides (click on website tab for Libarians' suggestions)
  •    search engine like Google

Can you find an author?

Can you determine the purpose of the website?

If you need up-to-date information can you confirm a date on the website?

Is there a bibliography?

Are you tired of searching and the site you have is good enough?

Try this YouTube video on Evaluating Websites

Evaluating Websites - What Kind of a Webpage Am I Looking At?

This is one of the key questions when evaluating a website for academic use. (This information comes from the Utah State University Libraries)

Can you recognize the following types of websites?

Personal website or blog:

  • Can you tell anything from the address about whether the site is personal? Do you see the word “blogspot” in the URL? Does the url contain a personal name?
  • If you want to use this site for a research project, you need to look carefully at the author’s credentials. Is the website or blog based on their occupation? For example: http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com. The information on this blog should be fairly credible since the writer is an Economics professor at Harvard, but the information still has not been reviewed by a group of experts or an editor, but you could also look at published papers and articles by the author.
screenshot of video

Public “ask us” site

  • These are essentially a collection of opinions, typically without the names or credentials of people posting responses. 
  • In order for a site to be credible enough for any type of academic project, you need to identify the author or the organization who is claiming ownership of the writing.  Newspaper articles don’t always list the author, but the newspaper and its editorial process gives the necessary legitimacy to an individual piece. 
screenshot of video

News article or magazine article (more and more are available on the web)

  • Do you recognize the title as a newspaper or magazine? To get from an individual article back to the main site, try deleting everything in the web address after the .com (i.e. http://seattlepi.com). 
  • Does the banner across the top of the site list typical newspaper sections such as Local, U.S. or National, World, Business, Sports, Arts & Entertainment, and/or Classifieds? 
  • Is there a prominent date and/or issue number?
screenshot of video Educational site
screenshot of video

Company site / Sales site

  • Is the site representing some type of web business or corporation? Typically the web address will end in .com.
  • What is the purpose of a company website? Typically to a. sell something, b. convince you to invest in the company, c. convince people to work for the company. Therefore, you need to verify the information. If the company makes a claim, do they provide ways to verify the information?
  • For example, see outside organizations who have recognized the company: http://www.campbellsoupcompany.com/csr/planet_recognition.asp. Or search for published articles on the company.
  • If the issue is controversial or something the company has been criticized for in the past, you definitely need to verify the information. Are you getting the whole story from the company’s website? 
screenshot of video

Government report/article/statistics

  • Government reports and websites can be a great sources of information, and are typically highly reliable and non-partisan. 
  • Look for .gov web address, such as http://www.census.gov or http://www.cdc.gov/
  • Good sources for statistics and reports. Also, most federal reports are available full-text on the web.
screenshot of video

Scholarly article (more and more are available on the web)

  • Did you find a scholarly article?
  • Typically, scholarly articles are:
    • fairly long (at least 8-10 pages),
    • the authors are listed at the top the beginning of the article along with their university or research affiliation
    • there will be a list of citations at the end of the article (all the articles that authors used when they were creating their own theories and research).
  • Scholarly articles have been reviewed by experts in the field and the authors are experts, so these are usually highly reliable.