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Research

A guide on how to use library resources through the research process for Broward College students.

Types of Internet Sources

Searching the web

Government Websites

  • Can be valuable for learning about purpose, operations, and functions of government agencies
  • Good place to find official reports and statistical information. 
  • Each agency has its own site, so each site is narrow to the scope of its responsibility.  
  • The domain .gov is reserved for government sites

Private Entity Websites - Company, Organizations (Public and Private), and other Institutions

  • Published directly by the entities themselves. Thus, are not usually critical of themselves. 
  • Useful to obtain fast facts, including contact information and location, from an institution. 

Online News Sites 

  • Like print magazines and traditional news media, current or topical stories can be found in online new sites.
  • Sites that employ professional journalists operate like traditional news media: fact-checking, editorial reviews, copyediting, and other pre-publication steps.
  • However, they post numerous stories in a single day with little time between writing and publication. 

Blogs

  • The quality and scope of content on blogs vary drastically.
  • Published directly on the web and, usually, have a very high rate of publication. 
  • Blogs can be run by a single individual or by a corporate entity with numerous contributors. 
  • Most blogs provide social commentary on the topics they cover and, as such, are biased in nature. 
  • Usually provide a narrow scope of interest: celebrity gossip blogs, liberal or conservative political blogs, TV show fan blogs, etc.

Evaluate Websites with the CRAAP Test

Before you rely on your Internet source, ask some simple but crucial questions about it. 

Currency:   

If it's important to have current, up-to-date information about your topic, then ask:

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Are links on the page dead? 

Relevance: 

Not all information about your topic is going to meet your needs. To find out, ask: 

  • How does the information relate to your topic?
  • Does the information answer your question? 

Authority:  

Knowing who wrote and published the information will tell you whether it's credible or unbiased. 

  • What makes the author a credible source on this specific subject?
  • What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source?
    • .com and .net: can be used for commercial sites or purchased by anyone
    • .edu: used by universities and other educational organizations
    • .org: typically used by non-profit entities
    • .gov: used by departments, agencies or offices of the U.S. federal government

Accuracy:  

Because you're likely not an expert on the subject you are researching, it's important that claims being made in your sources are as accurate as possible. 

  • Is this information very different from other information you've read about this topic?
  • Are there references to original sources?

Purpose: 

Information can be presented to inform, persuade, entertain, or sell something to you. 

  • Does the author or page clearly state its purpose, biases, or agenda?  

Source: Adapted from Northeastern Illinois University and California State University, Chico

Examples of Web Evaluation