USM Tutorials: Web Resources
The Web offers access to a wide variety of informational materials from
governments, associations, organizations, agencies, news outlets, universities, research institutes, consumer groups,
commercial entities, and the guy down the street! So how do you know what is research material and what is not?
Look for the clues:
1. Ascertain who publishes the website/page
A good website will have a link to a page that gives you information about the site's publisher. It's usually labeled
"About Us," "Mission" or similar terminology.
- Websites published by organizations/institutions reputable in the field
- Websites recognized in the field as authoritative
- Bias. Is the website publishing materials that promote an unsubstantiated or controversial point
of view or are they relaying factual and well-researched information?
no information is available about the site's publisher, check the URL or web address (e.g., http://www.cdc.gov).
Domains such as .gov and .edu are the best domains for scholarly and research-based information. Field-related organizational web
sites (.org) can also be good sources of information - but beware of bias!
2. Look for information about the author
Most scholarly and research-type materials will list an author and give some information about the
author's expertise. If no author is given, use materials only from reputable and reliable sites (see above).
The page or article should have:
- Information about the author's educational background or expertise on the subject for which they are writing.
Look for materials by researchers, scholars or professions not public relations writers or journalists.
- Footnotes, endnotes or a bibliography that authenticate and
substantiate the material. Check to be sure that even the sources cited look credible.