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Using Google for College-Level Research: Interpreting Your Google Results

Evaluating Web Sites - The Movie

Evaluating Websites - You CAN Do It?

The most important factor when evaluating Web sites is YOUR SEARCH NEED. What are you using the Web for?

  • Entertainment
  • Academic work
  • Hobbies or interests

 You can develop skills to help you decide which web sites are reliable enough to use for academic work.

 Try to determine What kind of web page are you looking at? (from Utah State University Libraries)

      What can the url tell       you? Try these tips

     

  • .com commercial business or for-profit organization
  • .gov US government agencies
  • .edu educational institutions
  • .mil US militatary organizations
  • .org non-profit organizations
  • a personal page (look for a personal name (e.g., smeyer or meyer) following a tilde (~), a percent sign (%), or the words "users," "members," or "people"
  • a blog

 

   Is it current?       

    Signs of a well maintained site:

  •    the links work 
  •    information is updated when needed (there is a difference between historic data    and a website that is current, for example John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech    was created in 1961 but lives on a site updated Jan. 2013

 

   Is it  objective?               

     Some sites try to influence you one way or another about a topic.  When you are doing       research you want a site that:

  •    presents a balanced and fair representation of an issue
  •    doesn't use language that is inflammatory or biased
  •    that provides sources and bibliographies for the claims that it makes.

 

   Who is the author?

   Most reputable sites will list key information about its site and creator.  If it's not obvious    check  for links like "About this site" or "About the author," usually located on the perimeter    of the page.

   Are the author's credentials listed?  What gives the author the authority to speak on a    subject?

 

   Any Reviews ?

   Look for sites that are suggested by reputable organizations (.gov, .edu, etc.) or    individuals.  Sites that are evaluated and compiled by librarians (See the Subject Guides),    your professor, or included in a reference list usually meet these criteria.

 

   What is the content?

   Sometimes sites will provide you with entire reports or articles, these are sites rich in    content you can use for research.

   Other sites offer bits of info without telling you where they found it or who they are    quoting. It's important to evaluate the level of content in a web site.

   Ask yourself, "Is the content answering my research question?"  "Is it thorough enough?"    "How does it compare to what I already know?" "Does it all add up?"

 

 

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Evaluating Web Sites - Good Enough for Your Purpose?

Web sites should always be evaluated relative to your purpose - why you are looking for information. Your standards for relevance and credibility may vary, depending on whether you need:

  • Information about a personal health problem
  • An image you can use on a poster
  • Evidence to win a bet with your brother-in-law
  • A movie review
  • A weather report in Phoenix
  • Evidence for your argument in a term paper

It's not easy to figure out if a website is "suitable" for your academic assignments.  Here are a few criteria to help you decide:

   Is it current?

     Signs of a well maintained site:

  •    the links work 
  •    information is updated when needed
   Is it free?                   

    Many sites offer you bits of free information but charge you for more details or lengthy     articles.  When you're doing research you shouldn't have to pay for ANYTHING!

   Is it  objective?               

     Some sites try to influence you one way or another about a topic.  When you are doing       research you want a site:

  •    that presents a balanced and fair representation of an issue
  •    that provides sources for the claims that it makes.
   Who is the author?

   Most reputable sites will list key information about its site and creator.  If it's not obvious    check  for links like "About this site" or "About the author." 

   Any Reviews?

   Look for sites that are suggested by reputable organizations (CNN, .gov, .edu, etc.) or    individuals.  Sites that are evaluated and compiled by librarians (See the Subject Guides),    your professor, or included in a reference list usually meet these criteria.

   What is the content?

   Sometimes sites will provide you with entire reports or articles, these are sites rich in content    you can use for research. Other sites offer bits of info without telling you where they found it    or who they are quoting.  It's important to evaluate the level of content in a web site.

   Ask yourself, "Is the content answering my research question?"

 

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