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REA 112HP - Annotated Bibliography (Holly Davis Smith): 6. Relevant, reliable website

Lateral Reading Video

What about Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is a free, online encyclopedia that contains articles about nearly any topic.  It may be tempting to use it as a resource for an assignment, but keep in mind that most instructors WILL NOT accept wikipedia as an acceptable source. 

Why?  Wikipedia entries can be edited by anyone that has access to a computer and creates a Wikipedia account. This may compromise the quality of information that may appear in Wikipedia entries.

Although Wikipedia can be a great place to begin understanding your topic, the fact that it is a "one stop shop" may prevent students from exploring further.  We encourage students to use a variety of quality web sources to enhance their research.

Google Web Search

Google Web Search

Tips for Lateral Reading

  • Don't rely on a single website or article for your research. Explore multiple sources.
  • Do your searching in multiple browser tabs so you can skip back and forth to compare articles on your topic.
  • Get a clear idea of who wrote or who is responsible for the article you are reading.  (This is often found in the "About" section of the website.) Do they have a particular bias? Are they a credible journalist? Are they an expert in their field? Are they affiliated with a credible organization?
  • Look for references. Is it clear where the writer of the article/website got some of their information? Can you see that there is data to back up any opinions?
  • Reflect on your own opinion of the source? Does it seem credible to you? Does it seem objective? Does it seem like a quality source?


Domain Names

The URL for a website can tell you a lot about the purpose of a webpage. 

.com = commercial site

.net = commercial site or network provider

.org = organization (although anyone can get a .org domain name)

.edu =education - school or university

.mil = military website

.gov = government website

.com, .net, and .org sites are less regulated, meaning anyone can register for a website with that domain.  .edu, .mil, and .gov sites are MORE REGULATED, and tend to be more reliable.