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Information Literacy for Undergrads

Advice and Best Practices to Insure Obtaining and Using the Best Resources Available.

Fake News Has Always Been Here

File:The fin de si├Ęcle newspaper proprietor (cropped).jpg

Frederick Burr Opper 1894: A Man With "Fake News" Rushing to the Printing Press.

Checklist for Evaluating Websites

Many sites on the Web are created by non-experts.  An appropriate evaluation process to judge the quality and accuracy of information may include the following:


What is the author's identity and qualifications? Is there a way to determine the accuracy of information?


What is the purpose of the website?  Is the information factual and unbiased?
What is the purpose?

-Is it a personal webpage? An organization? A company?  A scholarly information site?  An advertisement?  For entertainment?
-Does the website provide factual, balanced, and objective information?
-Does the website seem to offer only subjective, biased, and opinionated information?


Is there a way to contact the author or webmaster?


Is this the kind of website where updating of information is critical to provide the most current information?
When was the site last updated, revised, or modified?


These are important considerations. If a site lacks any of these factors it loses value and credibliity.

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources

Primary Sources
Primary sources allow researchers to get as close as possible to original ideas, events and empirical studies as possible. Such sources may include expositions of creative ideas, first hand or contemporary accounts of events, publication of the results of empirical observations or studies, and other items that may form the basis of further research. Examples include:


  •     Novels, plays, poems, works of art, popular culture
  •     Diaries, narratives, autobiographies, memoirs, speeches
  •     Government documents, patents
  •     Data sets, technical reports, experimental research results

Secondary Sources
Secondary sources analyze, review or restate information in primary resources or other secondary resources. Even sources presenting facts or descriptions about events are secondary unless they are based on direct participation or observation. Moreover, secondary sources often rely on other secondary sources and standard disciplinary methods to reach results, and they provide the principle sources of analysis about primary sources. Examples include:


  •     Biographies
  •     Review articles and literature reviews
  •     Scholarly articles that don't present new experimental research results
  •     Historical studies

Tertiary Sources
Tertiary resources provide overviews of topics by synthesizing information gathered from other resources. Tertiary resources often provide data in a convenient form or provide information with context by which to interpret it. Examples include:


  •     Encyclopedias
  •     Chronologies
  •     Almanacs
  •     Textbooks

Some Website May Be Better than Others...

Internet Domain Extensions:

.gov - Government body

.ca - Country or state codes

.edu - Educational institution, used in the U.S.

.org - Organization that may be non-profit
.net - A top-level domain name used for Internet administrative sites in the United States
.com - A commercial enterprise

Other Tips and Tricks:

Most Web servers use the tilde (~) to represent the personal homepages of individuals:
Personal homepages often have URLs ending in: