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Journalism: Find Websites

Websites - General

This page will teach you how to effectively search for website sources. Remember that evaluating web sources is crucial to gaining academic level research. 

View the three steps below on how to gather Internet sources on this research question. 

 

Here is an example research question:

Is obesity directly linked to the fast food industry?

 

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Step 1 - Basic Search

Basic 

Navigate to Google (https://www.google.com/).

Use a boolean operator to connect your search terms: obesity and fast food.

Notice the following:

  • Number of results
  • Domain Suffix
  • Keywords in the description

Step 2 - Advanced Search Options

Advance Search

Every search engine has an advance search option. After generating a basic search-- notice the wheel at the top right corner of the results page.

  1. Click on the wheel
  2. Click on Advanced Search

This is where you may enter advance search parameters to narrow your search. 

Follow the instructions pertaining to each field.

Step 3 - Advanced Search Results

Notice the following:

Domain Suffix

Keywords

Date Range

Region

 

This is an efficient and effective way to do Internet research! 

Evaluating Sources

Use the following criteria to evaluate books, websites, and other information.

Affiliation: Is a reputable institution connected to the site (e.g., .edu, .gov, .org)?

Audience: Working links? Written at an appropriate level? Information suitable for intended audience? 

Authority: Is the author (not designer of web site) identified? Credentials? Contact info? 

Content: Well-organized? Relates to objective?

Currency: Up-to-date information? 

Design: Site loads reasonably quickly? Easy to navigate? Legible? Appropriate graphics? Font style?

Objectivity: Contains little or no advertising and free of bias? 

Purpose: Clearly stated and meets objective? 

Domain Suffix

The domain suffix provides you with a clue about the purpose or audience of a Web site. The domain suffix might also give you a clue about the geographic origin of a Web site. Many sites from the United Kingdom will have a domain suffix of .uk.

Here follows a list of the most common domain suffixes and the types of organizations that would use them.

.com
Commercial site. The information provided by commercial interests is generally going to shed a positive light on the product it promotes. While this information might not necessarily be false, you might be getting only part of the picture. Remember, there's a monetary incentive behind every commercial site in providing you with information, whether it is for good public relations or to sell you a product outright.

.edu
Educational institution. Sites using this domain name are schools ranging from kindergarten to higher education. If you take a look at your school's URL you'll notice that it ends with the domain .edu. Information from sites within this domain must be examined very carefully. If it is from a department or research center at a educational institution, it can generally be taken as credible. However, students' personal Web sites are not usually monitored by the school even though they are on the school's server and use the .edu domain.

.gov
Government. If you come across a site with this domain, then you're viewing a federal government site. All branches of the United States federal government use this domain. Information such as Census statistics, Congressional hearings, and Supreme Court rulings would be included in sites with this domain. The information is considered to be from a credible source.

.org
Traditionally a non-profit organization. Organizations such as the American Red Cross or PBS (Public Broadcasting System) use this domain suffix. Generally, the information in these types of sites is credible and unbiased, but there are examples of organizations that strongly advocate specific points of view over others, such as the National Right to Life Committee and Planned Parenthood. You probably want to give this domain a closer scrutiny these days. Some commercial interests might be the ultimate sponsors of a site with this suffix.

.mil
Military. This domain suffix is used by the various branches of the Armed Forces of the United States.

.net
Network. You might find any kind of site under this domain suffix. It acts as a catch-all for sites that don't fit into any of the preceding domain suffixes. Information from these sites should be given careful scrutiny.

Country Domain Suffixes
.au Australia
.in India
.br Brazil
.it Italy
.ca Canada
.mx Mexico
.fr France
.tw Taiwan
.il Israel
.uk United Kingdom

"Evaluating Internet Information." Evaluating Internet Information. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.

URL

The site address can give you clues as to ultimate sponsorship of a site. If you can't determine who wrote the site or who or what is sponsoring the site, try truncating the URL to its root address. This will tell you where the site is being hosted. For example, this site provides information on nutritional RDAs:

http://www.mikeschoice.com/reports/rda.htm.

If you truncate the URL to its root address http://www.mikeschoice.com, you will discover that this is a site selling a mineral supplement. Given the obvious bias, this is probably not the best source of nutritional information.

The ~ (tilde) symbol in the URL usually indicates that the site is a personal Web page and the information should be given careful scrutiny.

"Evaluating Internet Information." Evaluating Internet Information. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is not considered a reliable academic source since anyone may create, add, or edit the webpages. 

Although, if needed Wikipedia may be used as a reference source by scrolling to the bottom of the webpage and investigating the Reference section to see where the information was gathered from. 

Give it a try!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity