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Understand the difference between databases and the world wide web. Databases are collections of data that have been chosen and edited by professionals to facilitate searching. They contain well respected journal articles or bibliographic information. (Eg. ATLA & CPLI). These databases, subscribed to by CKS, are called citation only, as opposed to full text, databases. Conversely, the WWW is an open forum for anyone with the technology and the knowledge to disseminate anything. It is like a global bulletin board. No one but you is responsible for monitoring the currency, accuracy, objectivity or authority of the information presented there.
Use the Google Advanced search page. http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en Limiting the domain, choosing the file format and using the other tools on the advanced search page can generate results that are more useful for your search. Also try www.scholar.google.com which returns exclusively scholarly research articles.
Tip: When you open a web site and cannot connect your search term with the search result, click on Edit (from the toolbar) and" find on this page." Type in your keyword and the computer will search the document and highlight your term.
There is a yellow binder on the desk near the library offices with annotations for recommended websites.
Determine the authority of the site:
.com is a commercial site with the purpose of selling some product or service. However, don't discount their value. Eg. Excellent stock information is available at the Standard and Poor's web site http://www.spglobal.com/index.html.
.net is a private network and can be someone's personal page. As such, it may be very subjective. A telltale sign is the ~ or a ? in the URL. Eg. https://www.slideshare.net/
.org is a non profit organization. There is generally good information here, where access is offered to materials you could only get for a fee elsewhere on the WEB. Eg. http://www.mayohealthsystem.org/mhs/live/page.cfm
.gov and.mil are government sponsored web sites. Eg. http://www.whitehouse.gov/
.edu is a web site running off an educational institution's server. They are generally good, but different departments etc. can have postings from faculty that can be questionable
The server name can give good information as to the source of the site. Eg. Microsoft or Greenpeace.
Authority: Keep in mind, anyone can publish anything on the web
Is there a signed author?
Who is the sponsor? Reputable?
Is the author a qualified expert?
Objectivity: Information is presented with a minimum of bias
The following website does a good job of explaining pitfalls of internet research: http://novemberlearning.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=39&Itemid=85
Is the page designed to sway opinion?
Is there advertising on the page?
Is the page dated? Is it the date it was put on web or date first written?
If it is dated, how old is it? Lots of dead links is a bad sign.
- What topics are covered?
- What is the site's intrinsic value?
- How in depth is the material?
Librarian's Index to the Internet - a directory of websites that have been reviewed by librarians and recommended for those doing research: http://www.lii.org
Buffalo and Erie County Public Library - with a current library card and PIN you can access, for free, databases that include the Buffalo News, and many full text journal articles: http://www.buffalolib.org
New York Online Virtual Electronic Library (NOVEL) - with a current driver's license, free access to many full text databases: http://novelnewyork.org/