Where are You and Why Does it Matter?

Anyone, from researchers to school children, can make information available on the Web. It is up to you to determine the value of the information you find.

These are some questions you should ask yourself about each site you find:

  • Who created this site? What are the author's credentials?
  • Where is the site located? Is there a "sponsoring organization" for this site? Does the organization have an "agenda"?
  • When was this site or page created? Has it been updated since then?

If you cannot find answers to these questions, you probably don't want to use the site for a paper.

How do you find the answers to these questions?

Most useful Web pages will have an author's name somewhere on the page, either near the top or the bottom. The page will also commonly have a date included, usually near the bottom.

The remaining questions can be a bit more problematic. Often the answer to question 2 above can help with the credentials of the author. Researchers usually post their pages at the site where they do their research, so finding out more about the organization sponsoring the site can help lend credibility (or take it away!)

A good way to find out about the organization where a site is located is by using the domain name of the site. You can "backtrack" to the domain name to get to the main home page for the site. You do this by cutting off everything after the .com, .edu or .gov (et cetera) and you should know now who is the "sponsor" for the first address you started with.

Simple example:

The CNN Technology Page (http://www.cnn.com/TECH/) is sponsored by CNN (cnn.com)