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Student Research

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Common Problems

What are some common problems with internet sources?

  • Anyone can post material
  • Information is not always verified
  • Clear Bias often present

Solutions

There are six ways you can tell if your website is credible.

It can be challenging to determine whether a website you’re using is credible, but here are a few things to look for:

  • Author – Information on the internet with a listed author is one indication of a credible site. The fact that the author is willing to stand behind the information presented (and in some cases, include his or her contact information) is a good indication that the information is reliable.
  • Date – The date of any research information is important, including information found on the Internet. By including a date, the website allows readers to make decisions about whether that information is recent enough for their purposes.
  • Sources – Credible websites, like books and scholarly articles, should cite the source of the information presented.
  • Domain – Some domains such as .com, .org, and .net can be purchased and used by any individual. However, the domain .edu is reserved for colleges and universities, while .gov denotes a government website. These two are usually credible sources for information (though occasionally a university will assign a .edu address to each of its students for personal use, in which case use caution when citing). Be careful with the domain .org, because .org is usually used by non-profit organizations which may have an agenda of persuasion rather than education.
  • Site Design – This can be very subjective, but a well-designed site can be an indication of more reliable information. Good design helps make information more easily accessible.
  • Writing Style – Poor spelling and grammar are an indication that the site may not be credible. In an effort to make the information presented easy to understand, credible sites watch writing style closely.

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