Evaluating the sources you find is a crucial step in the process of library research. The questions you ask to evaluate books, periodical articles, or web sources are similar. This list will help you to critically analyze your sources. These are some of the critical questions you should ask when you consider the appropriateness of a particular book, article, or web site for your research.
What are the author's qualifications? The source itself may provide some biographical information. Is the author an expert on this topic? Has he or she written other material on the topic? Is the publisher or sponsoring organization reputable? What is a scholarly journal? Many databases allow you to limit your search to scholarly journals; however, some may use a term such as peer-reviewed or refereed.
How reliable and free from error is the information? Are sources listed so the reader can verify the data? Are there editors or other people who have checked the facts?
Is the information presented with a minimum of bias? If there is a bias, is it clearly stated? Is the information trying to persuade the reader to change their opinion? If there is advertising on the web page, is it clearly differentiated from the information content?
Is the information up-to-date? Is currency important? Some subjects, like medicine or technology, require current information. Other subjects, like religion or history, may not need to be as current. Is the publication date clearly noted? Does the web page indicate when it was written and last revised?
Is your topic included in the work? Check the table of contents or index. Are the topics explored in depth or superficially? Is the language too technical or specialized? If so, choose something that's more appropriate.
Evaluating the Web
You can expect to find everything on the web: silly sites, hoaxes, frivolous and serious personal pages, commercials, reviews, articles, full-text documents, academic courses, scholarly papers, reference sources, and scientific reports. How do you sort it all out?
(1) First you need to know how to read a URL: https://www.chaffey.edu/library/ "https" is the protocol "www" is World Wide Web "chaffey" is the second-level domain name "edu" is the top-level domain name "library" is the sub-directory name
(2) Next you need to carefully look at the top-level domain name "edu" educational site "com" commercial business site "gov" US governmental/non-military site "mil" US military sites and agencies "net" networks, internet service providers, organizations "org" US non-profit organizations and others Ask yourself this: Who is responsible for the page you are accessing? Is it a governmental agency or other official source? A university? A business, corporation or other commercial interest? An individual? You can generally rely on the GOV, MIL and EDU host names to present accurate information. The NET, ORG, and COM are more uncertain and might require additional verification.
(3) Next check the vital information A reputable web page will provide you with the following information: last date page updated, mail-to link for questions, comments, name-address information. Now ask yourself this: If the page owner is not readily recognizable, does he provide you with credentials or some information on his sources or authority?
(4) Next check the content On the web, each individual can be his/her own publisher, and many are. Don't accept everything you read just because it's printed on a web page. Unlike scholarly books and journal articles, web sites are seldom reviewed or refereed. It's up to you to check for bias and to determine objectivity. Look to see if the page owner tells you when the page was last updated. Try to distinguish between promotion, advertising, and serious content. Watch out for deliberate frauds and hoaxes. Some folks really enjoy playing games on the web.
(5) Also consider other Important Issues Censorship, Freedom of Speech, and Privacy From Yale University Library
Copyright & Fair Use
Information about copyright and fair use--for the classroom and the web. In the United States Copyright Law protects the property of all published and unpublished materials. This means that the author holds the legal rights to the ideas, and other people cannot claim credit for the ideas. To do so is a violation of U.S. law.
In college courses, we are continually engaged with other people’s ideas: we read them in texts, hear them in lecture, discuss them in class, and incorporate them into our own writing. As a result, it is very important that we give credit where it is due. Plagiarism is using others’ ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information. How Can Students Avoid Plagiarism? To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use • another person’s idea, opinion, or theory; • any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of information—that are not common knowledge; • quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or • paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words