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We recognize that many students will begin their search by performing an internet search for their topic. So, let's learn how to determine if the information you find on the web is appropriate to use in your research.
Let this be a beginning step in your research, not the only step.
Is the resource you've found on the web a good resource? How can we tell?
Use the SIFT method to determine the credibility of information found on the web.
Stop - do not engage with the text until you get enough context about the text to determine if it is worth engaging with.
Investigate the source -
who is the author?
what is the purpose of the source?
is it possibly written with a bias?
has it been reviewed and approved by experts in the field of study?
Find better coverage - find other resources about the topic from reliable sources.
Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context - backward searching.
Why might an Internet search be a good place to start? Discovery
Learn the basics about your topic
Use what you have learned to inform your research.
Create a list of keywords related to your topic.
Develop your keywords in relation to what you want to learn about your topic.
Relevancy - Does this source deal specifically with your topic?
Scope - Does this source only mention your topic briefly or does a substantial portion of the resource discuss your topic?
Currency (as applicable to the topic) - When was this piece written? Does the age of the source affect its relevancy to your topic?
Credibility/Reliability - Who is the author? Do they have the authority to speak about this topic? What are the author’s credentials? Has this resource been reviewed by other experts in this field of study?
Purpose - Informative vs. Persuasive. What is the intention of this source? Is the author trying to persuade you or is the author presenting information? Is there a bias you should be mindful of?
See the videos below to learn more about navigating the library's databases. Please contact the library if you have any questions. We are here to help!