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"I found it on the Web"

Spider Web

Here are some things to keep in mind when using the World Wide Web for your research.

Google May Not Be the Best Place to Start

When people need to find information, many of us turn to Internet search engines like Google first. While Google might be a good place to find lots of information, most of the time an Internet search is not the best way to find sources for your papers.

Instead, we suggest you use the Tutt Library Article and Information databases pages. These databases contain scholarly, peer-reviewed articles. The library pays large subscription fees for these databases, and most of the articles in them don’t appear for free on the web. If you need help choosing or using a database, please ask a librarian: Email or IM (to the left). We love to help!

When to Use the Web

There are times when it makes sense to search the web. Government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) publish reports and release data on the web. If you are studying a recent event or phenomenon, the web might be the most current source of information.

When you do use web pages in your research, please keep these things in mind:

Evaluate the Author and Publisher

  • Who wrote the page?
  • Is the person qualified to write this page? Do they give their credentials?
  • What are their institutional affiliations?
  • Is the web site hosted by a reputable institution or organization? Check the “about” links if you aren’t sure who is publishing the page.

Evaluate the Currency, Accuracy, Objectivity, and Tone

  • When was the page created/updated?
  • Can you verify the accuracy of the information in another source?
  • Is there a political or philosophical slant?
  • Is the page really an advertisement or propaganda disguised as an information page?
  • All information has a bias. Make sure this is the opinion you want.

Cite it Right

Remember to cite online sources for your bibliography. In most cases you will need the URL and the date you consulted the web page as well as the author, title, date published, and the like. See Online citation styles for specific information for your style guide..