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Using the Internet
Once you have grounded your research in books, authoritative resources like academic databases,
newspaper articles, etc, you are ready to fill in any gaps using the open internet. It is much
easier to figure out misleading or false information on the Web if you already have a good
understanding of your topic. Remember, anyone can put anything they want on the open
Web. So, it is important to know how to determine whether or not you are on a site that is
going to provide you with accurate information.
Search Engines
Using a search engine is similar to using the search box in an academic database. The search
engine takes the terms you enter and returns a list of websites that contain your search
terms. The better your search terms, the better your results. Use singular nouns and put
phrases or words that go together in quotation marks. Look to see if the search engine
you are using gives search tips.
There are many different search engines. It is a good idea
to be familiar with more than one since they each work a bit
differently and you may get different results from each search
engine.
,
and
are quite often the first ones
that come to mind.
Other search engines are based on pre-screened web sites.
and
are good examples of this
type of search engine. The advantage of these sites is that they
have already done the web site evaluation for you.
Web Site Evaluation
There are five things to discover about a website before you decide
to use it.
1. Who is responsible for the website?
a. Can you find the name of the author or organization that wrote the material on
the website—personal or corporate?
b. Can you contact the author by e-mail?
c. If the author is an individual; is there a corporate or university sponsor?
2. What are the author’s credentials?
a. Does the author have a degree in the field?
b. If not listed, can you determine why this person might be an expert in the field?
3. Where is the website hosted?
a. Is the domain: educational (.edu), government (.gov), military (.mil), commercial (.com)?
b. Is the sponsor: the organization, association, institution, etc. behind the site?