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ENGL 1T, Fernandez: Find Reliable Websites

Intended for students in Hilda Fernandez's ENGL 1T class studying slavery and environmental justice.

Google Tips

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Most of us love to search Google because it's fast, free, and easy, but one of the common complaints I hear is that people feel overwhelmed by too many hits. Try these tips to limit your searches.

  • For more precise searches enter allintitle: before your search terms.
  • To limit to a particular domain, e.g. educational websites, enter site: before the domain, e.g. site:.edu.
  • Use Google's Advanced Search and learn more on their Help page.

Evaluate Websites

Don't trust everything you find on the Web!

Because anyone can post anything on the Web and there is no quality control, it is important to evaluate any website you may use in your research. How do you do this? Below is a list of criteria and questions to help you determine if the sources you found are accurate and reliable.  Keep in mind that the following list is not static or complete. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
Authority: The source of the information.
  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as an e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? examples: .com, .edu, .gov, .org, .net 
Currency: The timeliness of the information.
  • When was the information posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.
  • Where does the information come from? Are sources cited in footnotes, a bibliography, etc?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased or free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?
Objectivity: The reason the information exists.
  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda? Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Adapted from a document created by Sarah Blakeslee at Chico State's Meriam Library.

Wikipedia

Should you use Wikipedia?
Hear what Stephen Colbert has to say.