While academic databases are considered the preferred method of conducting scholarly research, it is occasionally necessary to use credible websites within your citations. Some scenarios may include:
-Topical or extremely current events. i.e. Is the topic in the news?
-Public opinion polling.
-Government or corporate regulations and guidelines.
.gov, .edu, limited .org domains. Look for corporate fact sheets and "white papers" published by organizations. Be cautious of any potential for bias.
If you must use research obtained from a website in your speech, be sure to evaluate your sources for credibility. Go to the Evaluating Websites page or try using this memorable acronym (SPIDER) when evaluating web sources:
Source: It is important to know who the author of the site is, and exactly why they are qualified to write on the subject. A website that does not have an author, or author credentials listed, should not be used.
Purpose: Sometimes websites are created with a motive in mind - is the site simply meant to be informative, or is it biased for some reason? The site for a company that sells playground equipment is not the most reliable source of playground safety information, as they cannot be both objective and successful.
Information: Be sure that you are using the most up-to-date information in your research by looking for the date when each website was published or last updated. Lack of a date does not mean you cannot use that web site, but you should verify the information from the site against other credible sources
Domain: You can determine a lot of information from a website simply by examining its URL. Extensions like .edu and .gov indicate an educational institution or government entity, respectively, whereas .com indicates a commercial site. However, the domain does not necessarily dictate a site's credibility. Use this step in conjunction with the others to make an educated judgement on the validity of the site.
Educational: Be skeptical of the information presented in websites. Does the website seem like a spoof or a hoax? You should also choose sites that are appropriate for the level of research you are doing. A site geared toward grade school students may have accurate information, but it will not provide the amount of depth required for a college-level assignment.
Reliability: Is the same information from your selected site found on other sites and materials? Multiple sources should validate the same information.
As always, remember that the use of Wikipedia as a cited source is not recommended.
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