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The URL for a website can tell you a lot about the purpose of a webpage.
.com = commercial site
.net =network provider
.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.
Get some practice at evaluating websites using the criteria in the left-side column. Which of these sites do you think would be useful for academic research?
This website provides evaluations for many common media outlets and websites based on their political bias and fidelity to facts.
This website is great for checking if a story is a hoax
This is a non-biased fact checker website.
When searching for information on the "free web", you need to be critical. Here are a few reasons:
When evaluating websites or any other information sources, use the following CRAAP test to help evaluate the information you find. This checklist applies to any resource you may use for a school assignment, but keep in mind that some items are specific to websites. Download a CRAAP test worksheet.
Currency: The timeliness of the information.
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
Authority: The source of the information.
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
The CRAAP test is provided by the Meriam Library California State University, Chico.
Different types of publications have different purposes and different audiences. When we talk about journals, we can usually divide these publications into three broad categories: scholarly, popular, and trade publications.
|Scholarly Journals||Popular Journals||Trade Journals|
|Purpose||Informs and reports on original research done by scholars and experts in the field.||Entertains and informs a general audience without providing in-depth analysis.||Reports on industry trends and new products or techniques useful to people in a trade or business.|
|Authors||Articles are written by subject specialists and experts in the field.||Articles are written by journalists, freelance writers, or an editorial staff.||Articles are written by specialists in a certain field or industry.|
|Audience||Intended for a limited audience - researchers, scholars, and experts.||Intended for a broad segment of the population, appealing to non-specialists.||Intended for practititioners in a particular profession, business, or industry.|
Your instructor may ask you to use only scholarly resources for your paper. What's the difference between a scholarly or non-scholarly resource?
Scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources include encyclopedias, books, and articles published in scholarly journals. These sources are reviewed by a panel of experts in that particular field, and are often published by a professional association or a university press. These experts ensure the information published is credible before accepting it for publication.
Non-Scholarly sources include websites, magazines, newspapers, and books that undergo no expert review prior to publishing.
Check with your instructor if you plan to use non-scholarly sources and use the CRAAP test to evaluate them.
Does your instructor require you to use scholarly, or peer-reviewed articles? Watch the video below from Vanderbuilt University to find out what peer-reviewed articles are.
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 often compromises the quality of information that may appear in Wikipedia entries. The last thing you want to do is to use false information in your assignments.
So what do you do? Use Wikipedia as a starting point for your research, but, if you want to use information from it, try to verify it in another reputable source instead.
See the video below for more about Wikipedia: