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ENG 101: College Writing (Quick): Web Sites

Effective Research on the Web

Research using the web requires a planned strategy to enable your focus, plus skills in evaluation. Strengthen your web awareness skills for all kinds of research using the evaluation tips provided.

Searching for Credible Web Sites

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. Below is a comparison of a general topic search using Google and then a more focused search of the same topic, limited by domain (all results restricted to the .gov domain). Notice the difference in the amount of results retrieved --give it a try with your research topic!

Video: Spotting Bogus Claims by FactCheck.org

This brief tutorial describes criteria for evaluating claims made via email messages, but it applies equally to all web-based content.

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BCC librarians are available to help you with your research. We provide guidance in locating information and using resources available through the library and on the internet.

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Website Evaluation

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?

  • .com or.biz - a business or commercial website
  • .edu - an educational institution
  • .gov or .mil - a U.S. military or government website
  • .net - a personal website
  • .org - a website for a not-for-profit organization

Documentation

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)?

Currency

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?