Research on the web takes patience in setting up and comparing different search strategies to get the best results. It also requires skills in evaluating results for quality, accuracy and relevance. Use the suggested web search and evaluation tips below and keep good notes on what strategies work best for you.
The best rule of thumb with web searches is to realize that even with the enormous amount of content available, not everything is available or accessible through the web. Web searches should always be one of several search strategies - library catalogs, databases, reference resources, and archives all hold information that may be the best on the topic, but Google will never find.
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 Is the author using outdated statistics?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?