Finding credible sources


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Finding credible sources

  1. 1. Finding Credible Sources
  2. 2. Why Do You Even Need to Find Sources? Your opinions and ideas need to be founded on research Appealing to experts and authorities gives you more credibility Looking at a variety of sources from different perspectives helps you develop and refine your argument You need multiple perspectives, taken as a whole, in order to get the complete picture
  3. 3. Primary vs. Secondary Sources Secondary: analysis of the work • review of a particular genre • article or essay about the work • biography of the author • print or electronic reference sources • textbook Primary: an original work • poem • short story • art work • video • research paper • journal article • book •speech
  4. 4. So I Can Just Use Google or Wikipedia, Right? Wrong! Anyone can post in Wikipedia, and when you search google (or any other search engines), the sites that appear at the top are the most popular sites OR they are the sites that pay the most money to get listed at the top. Are these always reliable, credible sources? Let’s take a look!
  5. 5. Sites Found Through Google/Bing/Yahoo, etc:
  6. 6. Some Common Domain Names .edu - education sites- be sure that they have clearly identified who they are. An educational — edu website can be written by any student with space on their college’s server. It does not mean the site is automatically reliable. .gov - government sites- be sure that they have clearly identified who they are. .org - organization sites- published by non profit organizations- read the information that describes who they are and why they are publishing this information. Find out if they are being sponsored by other reputable organizations. .com - commercial sites- usually this means the site’s purpose is to generate revenue in some way. Determine how they are trying to do this .net - network infrastructures- read the information that describes who they are and why they are publishing this information
  7. 7. Even More… And now A word from Jeff foxworthy…. You MIGHT be an UNreliable website, IF….
  8. 8. You have a ~ in your URL You are out of date or are not frequently updated Your purpose is to sell me something You don’t list contact information and resources You leave me with a lot of questions after I read it You have a lot of broken links or old information Your author seems to be full of biases and is only giving opinions rather than facts Your author’s background does not match with the topic at hand and he/she does not shows evidence of being knowledgeable, reliable, and truthful You have bad grammar or misspelled words You contain numbers or statistics that are presented without an identified source for them
  9. 9. You seem to be lacking a list of sources You don’t seem to have any other sources that present the same information as you (i.e. you lack corroboration) It is unclear which company or organization is responsible for the information on your site and/or it doesn’t seem as if you have a copyright (©) credit It is difficult to check the relevance and credibility of your support You do not have an About Us page that describes what the company or organization does You do not have any internal or external links When your website is deconstructed, it leads back to a site that is not credible
  10. 10. Tips for Evaluating Web Sites Tips for evaluating websites: Evaluating Web pages requires three actions: – Be suspicious – Think critically about every page you find – Constantly consider your intended use of the web Look for the author's name near the top or the bottom of the page. If you can't find a name, look for a copyright credit (©) or link to an organization. Look for biographical information or the author's affiliations (university department, organization, corporate title, etc.). Their background information should be related to the topic of the page in some way Anyone who has visited a chat room knows that people don't always identify themselves accurately, so look for the author’s information in other sources Look for an email link, address, or phone number for the author. A responsible author should give you the means to contact him/her.
  11. 11. Evaluating Web Sites To verify a site's organizational sponsorship: – Look at the domain (.com, .edu, .org, etc.). Addresses ending in .gov .us and. (STATE ABBREVIATION) are usually reliable. All other endings will require more investigation to know if they are credible or not. Refer to the domain chart on this page to help you. – Look for an "about this site" link. – Be careful of a web page that has a tilde (~) or a (%) in the URL, as this usually identifies a personal directory on a web site. Oftentimes it will also have the name user in the URL somewhere Note: A recent date doesn't necessarily mean the information is current. The content might be years out of date even if the date given is recent. (The last update of the page might have been from someone changing an email address or fixing a typo). To determine if information is up-to-date, compare the information on the web page to information available through other sources. Broken links are one measure of an out-of-date page.
  12. 12. Evaluating Web Sites In general, information in science, technology, and business fields ages quickly. Information in the humanities and social sciences age less quickly. In some cases, old information can be perfectly valid. Biased information is not necessarily "bad," but you must take the bias into account when interpreting or using the information given. Look at the facts the author provides, and the facts the author doesn't provide. Based on the author's authority, try to identify any conflict of interest. Determine if the advertising is clearly separated from the objective information on the page. The web page in question should have a mix of internal links (links to web pages on the same site or by the same author) and external links (links to other sources or experts). If a web page makes it hard for you to check the support, be suspicious.
  13. 13. Evaluating Web Sites Deconstruct the Web address (URL) to find out the source of the information (and the server on which it resides). What do the different parts of a URL, divided by "/" symbols mean? URL addresses are hierarchical. For example, the URL address: "" , broken down into its components, is (from the lowest to highest): the file "University Policy #60" - Responsible Use of Computing ("60.html"), is linked in a Web page called "University Administration Policies" ("administrative"). The "University Administration Policies" page is linked on a Web page called the "Faculty/Staff Information" ("facstaff"), which a link on MasonLink the GMU home page, which server is called: Try to select sources that offer as much of the following information as possible: Author's Name, Author's Title or Position, Author's Organizational Affiliation, Date of Page Creation or Version, Author's Contact Information, date of last update, and other indicators of validity that you have learned about through this lesson
  14. 14. Use a Web Site Evaluation Tool found on our media center web site
  15. 15. OR…. To make things easier….AND save you TIME….
  16. 16. Use the County Databases! Everything you find on here is LEGIT!!! Credible! You don’t have to worry with Web Site Evaluation Tools and spend time deconstructing web pages! How to Get There: ●Media Center Web Site (“Click ‘here’ to access the databases”) ● Student Portal (look for a button that says “Online Research Library”) ● Desktop of Student Computer
  17. 17. Citing Sources from Databases (Another Perk of the Databases!) Good news: many databases do all the work and find your source information for you (google doesn’t do this!). – Once you find an article you want to use, just look for a “cite” button (or some databases include this info at the bottom) and select “MLA” to get this info to paste into your Easybib Bibliography.
  18. 18. Databases
  19. 19. Other Sources to Try -SweetSearch -Google Scholar (click on “More” at top, “Even More,” and find “Scholar”) -Easybib Research tab -WebPath Express
  20. 20. Moral of the Story - Be critical users of the internet - Use a web evaluation tool when finding sites from the Internet - Use the county databases to save you time