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Research on the Internet: Home

Learn how to use the web effectively and responsibly for research.

Can I Trust Wikipedia?

With discernment! Be sure to check the entry's primary sources and compare the information with traditional published references.

Can I Use Google?

Google is a natural starting point for information search, but not always a good path for scholarly research. Here is a good overview of its strengths and weaknesses.

Evaluating Internet Information

Questions for evaluating a website:

1. WHO is hosting this information? Who is the intended audience? 

2. WHY has this website been created? What is the underlying agenda?

3. WHEN was the site created? When was it last updated?

4. WHAT is the source for the content? Is proper attribution given?

5. WHERE is the site located? Does the geography have an impact on the site and its contents?

What's NOT on the Internet ...

  • anything that is not in digital format - and only a tiny fraction of archival and historical information has been digitized
  • publications from small presses and ephemeral sources
  • articles available only through protected subscriptions sources
  • most information in books - Google books, many as they are, account for only about 12% of published books
  • information that WAS on the Internet, but now is gone

The RICHEST source of information is available through proprietary databases and library collections. The Internet, good as it may be, is NEVER good enough.