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SPC 1608 (Marsh) Lake Nona: Internet Sources

A guide created to assist students with library research in SPC1608 at the Lake Nona campus.

Evaluating Online Sources Worksheet

Website Evaluation Checklist

Checkpoint Questions Explanation
Purpose

Is the site trying to teach, persuade, or sell an idea or product?

Is there an obvious bias? Some examples may include race, religion, political view, etc.

A .com website might be set up for commercial purposes, while an .edu is almost always an educational institution.

Many .org websites, while technically non-profits, may still have an agenda or what might be considered to be a bias. It's important to acknowledge this when reading through information. 

Accountable Who is the author?

Is contact information provided?
The author or name of the organization should be clear. Look for an "about us" section and at the very least an email address for getting in touch with the author of the site.
Current When was the site created?
When was the site last updated?

An organization's longevity can be an indicator of their reputation in the industry.

Make sure that the information is as current as possible. The website should be updated regularly.

Content

Is the site relevant to your topic?

How much advertising is on the site?

What is the targeted age range or demographic?

Make sure that you aren't having to stretch the information to make it fit. 


The website should have minimal advertising if any and be geared towards adults.

Accurate Can you verify the information with other websites?

All sources should be cited. Look for hyperlinks to other websites and names of interview subjects if formal citations aren't provided.

Does the information very drastically from other research that you've done? If so, this is a big clue to run the other way.

 

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Credible Sources Overview

Fact Checking Resources

FactCheck.org

FactCheck.org is a comsumer advocacy organization affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. This website is geared towards political issues and current events.

Hoax-Slayer

Since 2003, Hoax Slayer has focused on debunking outrageous claims, myths, and scams taking place online. 

PolitiFact

Affiliated with The Poynter Institute, a non-profit school for journalists, Politifact checks statements made by elected officials, candidates, and political activists.

PunditFact

This division of PolitiFact is dedicated to fact-checking journalists and media organizations of all sizes.

Snopes.com

Snopes is generally the first name that comes up in discussions of online fact-checking. The website is known for giving true or false ratings to news stories, viral media, email scams, and political content.

Browsing Guide

Google Tips

Using Google to find research for your speech? Use the tips below to make sure you get the most relevant search results. Use these tips in conjunction with the website evaulation tools to the left to find the most trustworthy sources possible.

 

Tip #1: Phrasing Search: Use quotation marks to keep words together as a phrase, e.g., “to be or not to be”. Especially helpful for phrases with stop words.

Tip #2: Not sure if it's a phrase or one word? Put a hyphen between two (or more) words to pick up the two words, the words hyphenated, or the words together without a space or hyphen, e.g., health-care picks up health care, health-care, and healthcare.

Tip #3: Synonyms: Use the tilde (~) in front of a word to pick up words that Google considers synonyms of your word, e.g., ~physicians retrieves results with physicians, doctors, medical, etc.

Tip #4: Define Words: Get definitions for words by putting define: in front of a word, e.g., define:subsume.

Tip #5: Eliminating Words or Alternate Mearnings: Use the minus sign (“-“) in front of a word to eliminate that word from the search. e.g., bass -fish will eliminate many fish-related results.

Tip #6: Domain Search: Search for results only from a particular domain such as .gov, .edu, use site:, e.g., site:.gov