Use Internet Search Engines Wisely

The Internet is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is relatively fast.

HOWEVER, the internet is disorganized, volatile, and dynamic. Anybody can post anything on the internet. Therefore, the information retrieved may not be reliable. We should also realize that everything is not available on the Internet and that the information found there must be evaluated.

Evaluate Internet Websites using the 6 C's

Use critical thinking to evaluate websites instead before clicking on the first web site on a results list.

  1. Credibility

    1. Can you easily identify an author/sponsor of the page? Does the author appear to be an expert in the topic? Does the information appear reliable? Is the information serious or frivolous? Humorous or satiric? Does the information offer only one perspective or opinion? What does this tell you about the site's bias?
  2. Content/Context

    1. Notice the domain of the website (end of the URL address): .edu, .com, .gov, .org. Is someone trying to sell you a product related to your topic of interest? Can you determine if this information is free or proprietary? Is it scholarly or recreational reading? Will you or your instructor be satisfied by just any source on your subject, or would you be better served by verifiable statistics, history, discussion, case studies, and/or peer-reviewed journal articles (such as those found on GALILEO)?  Is there a creation or revision date, author, title, and way to contact the supplier of the information? How is the information intended to be used? Has it been a long time since the last update, and does currency matter for your purposes?
  3. Citation

    1. Remember, plagiarizing is a serious violation of academic honesty. Electronic resources deserve credit just as print ones do. Your reader may wish to verify a URL or access it to do further research. Style manuals (APA, MLA) and online guides, such as the Online Writing Lab at Purdue (Owl), provide information and sample citation formats.
      1. How do you avoid plagiarizing?
        • Give the author of the material credit by "documenting" or "citing" your sources (terms which mean you credit your source).
        • Give credit whenever you use a direct quote by placing it in quotation marks and giving the author credit.
        • Give credit whenever you paraphrase (state/write in a different way) a thought, idea, or words within the research paper and at the end of the paper in the bibliography.
        • Give credit within a research paper through footnotes or parenthetical remarks.
        • Give credit at the end of a research paper in the bibliography.
  4. Copyright

    1. Users of electronic or Internet information must respect copyright just as print readers should. "Fair use" applies generally to brief, cited parts, for research or discussion. Even if a copyright symbol does not appear, someone else is responsible for creating the Web document, picture, or sound, and the material is protected. "Public domain" applies only if stated directly.
  5. Connection

    1. Is this page best viewed using only one Web browser or one version of it? Is it hard to view without waiting? Does it require a frame-compatible browser? Do the graphics take a long time to download?
  6. Constancy

    1. How likely is it that the information will be here today and gone tomorrow? How well maintained is this site? Can you find it easily and without registering, paying a fee, or downloading the latest plug-in software? Will it still be available for retrieval in two weeks should your professor wish to follow your initial link? Remember that Google only finds a fraction of the billions of websites available. The rest is held within the "Invisible Web", which is made up of password protected sites, dynamically generated information, and database driven sites (like GALILEO). GALILEO and other library resources have already been evaluated for credibility for you. The library has a list of research subject guides called LibGuides that provide links to Internet websites which have already been evaluate by professors and librarians for academic use. Our LibGuides are great resources for your research.