Evaluating Sources

Useful Websites

Website maintained by Center for Media & Democracy

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Photo by Nummer 12, Own work, PD

CSI approach

As you navigate your college studies, you will encounter many sources of information. Scholarly sources are distinct from those aimed at a wider audience. How do you determine which books and articles are appropriate for the project you are working on?  Article Quick Search, on the UML Library website, indexes sites sponsored by professional societies, and is rarely a source of dubious articles. This is a good starting place for finding articles on your topic.

Google Scholar is less controlled, but is not the same as Google itself, which has no filters.

If you take a CSI approach and conduct a forensic investigation you can discover why why some sources are not acceptable. The first question to ask is: Do you know where an article comes from?

There are several ways to determine where it comes from.
The file extension on the web address is one clue, although be suspicious of .org. Anyone can be a non profit, there is no guarantee of impartiality.

URL's with the .edu file extension tend to be more reliable. See the video below.

When determining whether online journal sources are reliable and scholarly, (as opposed to biased or outright frauds) look to see whether the site is up to date, and whether there is an "About" tab either at the top or bottom of the page. There may be significant background on the website authors here. Keep reminding yourself to ask, "where does it come from?"

There are websites which index suspicious journals. Beals List of Predatory Journals is an archive of suspicious titles.


Web Based Sources

If you cannot access the above video, you can watch it here

What Else to Look for on a Web Page?

Check the title, the section headings, and the opening paragraphs to see if a person or organisation is named as being responsible for the content of the webpages. Keep in mind that the webmaster or person who designed the webpage is not necessarily the one responsible for the content of the page.

If you can't find any information about the author on the page you're looking at, then you can go back in stages to the home page.  Delete from the end of the URL backwards to the first slash mark ("/") and press Enter on the keyboard.  If you still don't see any information about the author, back up to the next slash mark. Keep going until you come to the site's homepage.

If you cannot access the above video, you can watch it here.