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Sociology Research Guide: Websites

Subject guide for Sociology

Amazing Stuff on Internet

Redwood tree

Tallest Redwood Tree in the World does not look like this when you find it in the forest as there is no clear view through the trees.  This photo is a composite of many different photographs.  By the way, for some perspective, notice the skier at the bottom of the tree.

How Do I Evaluate Websites?

Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating websites: keyboard with emojis

  • Is the author an authority or expert?
  • Is the author selling ideas or products?
  • Is evidence to support information?
  • Is the information current?
  • Is the site mostly opinion?
  • Is the site biased or what is the bias?
  • Is this a commercial site designed to encourage sales?

ABOUT: Watch for this Link on Websites

Start with...ABOUT on the home page. About will list the website's stated mission, purpose, list of people invovled and possibly contact information. Sample websites that include informative ABOUT links

CDC: Center for Disease Control:   ABOUT link describes the organization, its mission, professional ethics, awards, committees, people involved and contact information for them.

Then, look at AUTHORS:

  • Quality websites list their author(s). Authors can be a person, group, organization, company, or government agency.
  • Websites with no author are anonymous.  Information from an anonymous website should not be used in research.
  • Company websites are advertisements and their information should be treated as such. 
  • Websites that review movies, theatre, music, & dance performances, are generally simply selling tickets.

Use College-Level Information: Be aware that many websites offer information designed for the general public and/or for children.  These websites often provides very little substantive detail and might cover material that you are already familiar with or seems almost like common sense. This type of website you would choose not to list as one of your required sources. An example would be Teen Drug Abuse: Help Your Teen Avoid Drugs.  It is nice information but not written for college students as a source for research.___________________________________________________________________________

IN CONCLUSION: Become a snob when you use the Internet.  Carefully evaluate any websites and use information that is college-level, identify any bias, look for the author(s) credentials, and do not use any suspect or low-quality websites.

Colbert on Wikipedia Colbert On Wikipedia
A humorous, and yet thought provoking, bit from Stephan Colbert on Wikipedia.