Web research requires skill in evaluating results for quality, accuracy and purpose. Use the suggested web search and evaluation tips below and keep good notes on what strategies work best for you.
One of the most powerful web search strategies is called "site limiting." This entails limiting your search results to either a specific web site, or top-level domain (i.e. org, edu, gov). The result is a more focused set of results, allowing you to evaluate and select sites within in a narrower context. Examples of these searches are shown below. Give it a try with your research topic!
Google Scholar offers web-based access to "broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites." However, it is important to note that like its more popular counterpart, Google Scholar does not own this content; therefore access to the full text of books and most articles is often quite restricted. It is best to search for scholarly articles using the BCC Library databases, for you will find more current articles, authoritative information and full-text access!
While conducting research on the web, it is imperative to evaluate the website in question for authority, documentation, currency, and bias. Doing so will ensure that you are using the most credible information possible to support your thesis.
Authority and Accuracy
Who produced the site? Are they a credible source? What is the purpose of the site? Why was it created? Is the person, organization, or group qualified to write this content? What is the domain of the URL?
Is there adequate documentation for factual statements? Is the documentation reliable, verifiable from a second source? Is there enough information to cite this information in a paper (author, title, source, date)?
Is the information up to date? When was it created, or last edited? Are the links up to date or dead? Is the author using outdated statistics?
Objectivity and Bias
Is the document biased or slanted? Are there few or no logical errors such as appeal to authority or circular reasoning? If you found this information a printed source, would you trust it?