These resources vary in the type and amount of information they provide. Be prepared to explain why you found a particular resource authoritative or reliable.
Here are a few hints for that help conducting a good web search for resources for college papers and projects. Even with the best web search techniques quality research isn't always easy to identify. Everyone and anyone can be a web author but those sites most often linked to by other reseachers usually land at the top of search results. Commercial publishers know how to play the game and entice you to open their web pages.
What do you need to know to decide if a page is reliable when citing the page as a source for college research?
Check the summary of criteria below and do a quick run through of this IRIS tutorial on evaluating web pages. IRIS also offers good advise on evaluating articles and books.
The librarian in consultation with your instructor has compiled some links on the subject you will be writing on. The resources vary in the type and amount of information they provide. Be prepared to explain why you found a particular resource authoritative or reliable. Some links like YouTube videos may be interesting to view but the most reliable resources will explain their origin and context.
Rely on the checklist when assessing the reliability of any particular source. Most web sites offer a chance to play detective.
Wikipedia articles vary in quality with the additional problem that there is never an identified authority. Always use the TALK tab to see the how Wikipedia has graded the article. You can also determine if the article is frequently vandilized.
Is the author or organization responsible for the page clearly identified? Are the author's credentials on the subject stated?
Look For: About us, Contact us or Google the sponsoring organization to see if they are repudible. Read the Mission statement
This is where Wikipedia falls short
Good news .gov and .mil sites are considered relaible.
When using .edu sites one must consider if the author is a qualified professional with credentials in the field or a student.
Can unique information be verified in other sources?
Think especially of Wikipedia information
Were established research standards used?
"Studies show...." is not acceptable without specific sources or studies cited.
Are there advertisements on the site? Do the advertisements have a direct relationship to the content of the site?
One example is drugs or vitamins for sale or advertised on a health related web site
Check Dr. Weil http://www.drweil.com/ Register and take the Wellness test and you will find ads for vitamins in your e-mail.
Melatonin http://www.melatonin.com/ is not a source for serious studies of the drugs effectivenss.
4. Is the purpose of the page or site to promote a particular viewpoint?
Is information withheld? An .org (organization) may be formed only to advocate a particular viewpoint by using facts selectively.
Check the purpose of the organization providing the web page.
For example:FAIR http://www.fairus.org/ Read the mission or about us statement. If you check About FAIR you will find that the organization has adopted a very specific position and is not likely to present both sides of the immigration issue.
Are value statements made in absolutes (best, worst, 100%, etc.)?