What does this mean for us? Choose sources that are reviewed for accuracy. Academic journals online are nearly always peer reviewed. Look for websites marked.edu or.gov – this means they are published by an educational or governmental institution. Look for websites known to be authorities on the subject (like, NASA for space exploration). Well-known periodicals (ex. The New York Times) generally report factually and objectively – the articles are edited before being published.
Why wouldn’t we want to use Wikipedia? Let’s take a look at Wikipedia’s “about us” page… “Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles…”
Questions to ask yourself Who is the author? What qualifies him/her to speak on the subject? Who is sponsoring this website? Are any biases at play? Where did she/he get this information? Can you verify this information from another source? When was the website published? Has it been updated recently?
Sometimes sites LOOK credible…but aren’t http://www.teensuicidestatistics.com/ http://www.teendepression.org/
Let’s Practice Would this be a credible source for the sample essay we read?
Let’s Practice (cont.) What about this site? Why?
Brainstorm Jot answers to the following: What credible organizations might have done research into your topic? What would make someone qualified to speak on your topic? Discuss your answers with the person next to you. Can you think of any tips for your partner?
When searching online, use keywords! For instance, in our example about teen suicide rates, I might enter “teenage,” “suicide,” and “America” into the search box. If you don’t get results, try using synonyms. Instead of “teenage,” I might try “adolescent.” I also might replace “America” with “United States” and see if I get more hits.
Brainstorm What keywords will you use to research your topic? Jot down three or more. Alone or with a partner, come up with a synonym for each keyword.