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How to Evaluate Research Sources

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Who Are You?

Pay close attention to the server name and domain name: this will help tell you who is sponsoring (or housing) the site and what kind of site it's mean to be. Here are examples of domains:

.com = commercial

.edu = educational

.gov = government

.int = international

.mil = military

.net = internet resource

.org = non-profit

Generally, but not always, .edu and .gov domains offer more credible information because they're generally well-established and well-funded organizations that are staffed by professionals. Remain skeptical even of information found on these sites, however, and use your evaluation tools to question everything you read.

-Quoted from The Digital Literacy Project produced by Cornell 

Find out who owns a certain website domain by looking them up at 

 -Picture from olarte.ollie

Looks Can Be Deceiving

These websites look authoratative, but, upon closer inspection, they're not.

How Trustworthy are Internet Sources?

This State Farm commercial might help you to understand the need for critical evaluation of web sources. (No endorsement of this company is intended.)

Google doesn't give you everything

One of the key things to know is that, particularly with scholarly material, not everything is online yet. What is often isn't free.

If you’ve ever found the perfect article for your paper, looked for it in an online database, and then found that the library doesn’t have it or that it’s only available in print, then you know that not everything is available online. If you’ve ever searched Google, Google Scholar, or Yahoo, come across an article, and been asked to pay for it, you know that not everything online is free. If you’ve ever searched a database and found articles you never saw when you searched elsewhere, you know that articles can be online in one place but not in another. The move from print to the digital world is a complex one, and librarians can help you figure out how to get what you need.

-Quoted from The Digital Literacy Project produced by Cornell

Advance Your Google search

Advanced search with Google allows you to limit your web searches to only specific classes of sites, for example only .gov (government) websites or .edu (education) websites. Where the advanced page says "site or domain", enter in .edu, or you can enter in a list of them like .edu, .gov., .org.

-Adapted & quoted from Post University's "Evaluating Information Sources"

Evaluating websites


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