Why Do You Even
Need to Find Sources?
Your opinions and ideas need to be founded on
Appealing to experts and authorities gives you more
Looking at a variety of sources from different
perspectives helps you develop and refine your
You need multiple perspectives, taken as a whole, in
order to get the complete picture
analysis of the work
• review of a particular genre
• article or essay about the
• biography of the author
• print or electronic reference
an original work
• short story
• art work
• research paper
• journal article
So I Can Just Use Google
or Wikipedia, Right?
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!
Sites Found Through
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
.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
.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
And now A
word from Jeff
You MIGHT be
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You are out of date or are not frequently updated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
You have bad grammar or misspelled words
You contain numbers or statistics that are
presented without an identified source for them
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
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.
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
Look at the facts the author provides, and the facts the author
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
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
Use a Web
Use the County Databases!
Everything you find
on here is LEGIT!!!
Credible! You don’t
have to worry with
and spend time
How to Get There:
●Media Center Web Site (“Click ‘here’ to access the
● Student Portal (look for a button
that says “Online Research Library”)
● Desktop of Student Computer
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