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Research Process

These pages offer an introduction to the research process at a very general level.

Website Evaluation

The internet has made it possible for anyone to publish web pages. Most websites have not undergone a review process for inclusion in a collection, whereas the resources in the Library’s subscription databases have. For these reasons, you should closely evaluate any Internet resources you find to ensure they contain balanced, factual information. Reliable internet resources may include peer reviewed journal articles, government reports, conference papers, industry and professional standards, scientific papers, news reports, and quick facts and figures.

However, keep in mind that just because a website is well presented does not mean that it contains accurate information. Here are some criteria you can look for in Internet resources to determine whether or not they are reliable sources of information. By addressing the questions below, you can reasonably determine if an Internet resource is a reliable source of information.

  • Can you identify the author of an Internet resource? If so, what do you know about this author's education, work history, affiliations, additional publications, etc.?
  • Can you find the date the Internet resource was last updated or published?
  • Does the Internet resource cite the work of others?
  • Does the content of the resource seem balanced and scholarly, or is it biased?
  • Who published the Internet resource? Was the web page published by a business, university, government organization, or professional association?
  • What is the intended audience for the Internet resource? Is it appropriate for university level research? Or is it geared toward secondary education or a more general audience?
  • What is the domain of the Internet resource? If it ends in .org, .gov, or .edu it is more likely to be a scholarly source. If it ends in .com or .net it is less likely to be a scholarly source. Click here for a comprehensive list of common domain suffixes.

Additional Resources:

Website Evaluation Workshop

There is a lot of information on the Internet, but how can you tell the good from the bad? This workshop presents search engine tips, basics of website evaluation, and includes practice websites for you to evaluate.

Limit by Domain

Look for the "site or domain" box in Google's Advanced Search options and enter the domain you'd like to search, as shown below.

Screenshot of Google Advanced Search with the "site or domain" field highlighted.

You can also do this by adding (or .org, .gov, etc) to the end of your search terms in any Google search box. For example, to find articles about “ethical leadership” published on government websites, enter the terms "ethical leadership", as shown below.

Google basic search screen showing terms "ethical leadership:

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