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Communication: Tools for Smarter Research

Online resources for research in communication

Things you should know

Evaluate It.

As we gather more and more information from the web, it is important  to critically evaluate the information you find for reliability and accuracy.

How can you tell if a website is credible? Click on any of the different types of web pages in the section below for a thorough discussion. A brief overview of criteria for establishing credibility is:

  • Authority: Who has "published" this information? Is it a reliable source of information? Is information about the publisher easy to find on the site, and is there contact information?
  • Currency: How recent or out-of-date is the information?
  • Purpose: What is the purpose of the website or the organization who hosts the information?

Evaluating Different Types of Web Pages

Different types of web pages call for different criteria in judging their accuracy and utility. Click on the links below for more information on these categories of websites.

An Advocacy Web Page is one sponsored by an organization attempting to influence public opinion (that is, one trying to sell ideas). The URL address of the page frequently ends in .org (organization).

A News Web Page is one whose primary purpose is to provide extremely current information. The URL address of the page usually ends in .com (commercial).

A Personal Web Page is one published by an individual who may or may not be affiliated with a larger institution. Although the URL address of the page may have a variety of endings (e.g. .com, .edu, etc.), a tilde (~) is frequently embedded somewhere in the URL.

A Professional Organization Web Page is one sponsored by an organization representing a profession or a particular group of professionals or workers. The URL address of the page frequently ends in .org (organization).

A Scholarly Web Page is one sponsored by a group of scholars (usually in a particular specialty) or by an institution of higher learning. The URL address of the page frequently ends in .edu (higher education) or .org (organization).

Remember: The most important thing is to use your best judgment. These questions are a guideline. If you need further assistance, you should ask a librarian or the TA or professor for your class.