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:
AUTHORITY AND ACCURACY
What is the author's identity and qualifications? Is there a way to determine the accuracy of information?
PURPOSE AND CONTENT
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?
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR VERIFICATION
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?
DESIGN, ORGANIZATION & EASE OF USE
These are important considerations. If a site lacks any of these factors it loses value and credibliity.
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:
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:
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:
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:
Below is a list of the most commonly cited resources used for research.
Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Journals
Articles are reviewed and approved for publication by scholars/experts in the field.
Examples: Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Journal of Accountancy
Articles are written and read by professionals in a specific industry.
Examples: Harvard Business Review, Chronicle of Higher Education
Articles are intended to casually inform, entertain, or present an opinion.
Examples: Time, Fortune, Vanity Fair
Published daily, newspapers are often the first to report a newsworthy story.
Examples: New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today
Books and Ebooks
Books provide broad and foundational coverage of a topic.
Examples: How to Win Friends and Influence People, Freakonomics Ebooks are just digitized print books
Encyclopedias & Handbooks
Encyclopedias & handbooks feature introductory overviews of topics.
Examples: Encyclopedia of Social Theory, The Persuasion Handbook
Government websites have .gov as their designated domain. They are often a great place to search for statistical information.
Examples: http://www.usa.gov/ and http://nces.ed.gov/