- How can I search the Internet more effectively?
- Are all websites proper resources for university-level research?
- Where can I go to get reliable information for my assignments?
Consider these questions as you review the examples below. Try the quiz from the left menu: What Have You Learned? after you’ve spent some time with this section.
What’s fishy about this website? (Click to enlarge)
Hint: think back to high school Chemistry or look up DHMO on wikipedia.
- Anyone can post information on the internet… so just how appropriate are web sites for research?
Wikipedia seems to be everyone’s first stop for a quick and easy overview on a variety of topics. However, while it can be useful for background information and source links, it isn’t necessarily the best resource for university-level work.
- Listed below are some important questions the Vancouver Public Library suggests asking about any website that you visit:
- Who (Authority) – Who created the webpage/site?
- What (Objectivity) – What are the author’s credentials? Does the author credit her/his sources? What is the url? (You can tell a lot about a site from the url)
- When (Currency) – When was the page last updated? Is the information on the page current? Are there many broken links? (Note: the information doesn’t always need to be up-to-date).
- Where (Coverage) – Where else/can the information be verified?
- Why (Accuracy) – Why was the webpage/site created? What is the purpose of the content? Is the information biased? What is the purpose of the page, and what opinions are expressed?
- So, where can I go to get reliable information for my assignments?
Start from your Library homepage to connect you with millions of books, journals and other electronic resources that have been selected for their quality and appropriateness for use at a university. You could also choose a Research Guide to go straight to a list of electronic and print resources for your discipline. The great majority of these resources are not available through Google. They’re behind a paywall accessible with your UBC CWL or barcode number on the back of your student card.
You can customize your searches in different library databases and even subscribe to email and RSS notifications when new articles match your search criteria. To set up notification services in a library database, you need to create an account and provide some personal information. But don’t worry, library databases won’t sell your email address to spanners!
One thing you might keep in mind, however, is that many databases UBC Library subscribes to are hosted in the U.S. and are therefore subject to the USA Patriot Act.