Research and Write Web Content
How to Use Web Content as Research Material
The Internet contains a world of information and can be a great research tool. But, if you want to use web content as research material, you must look at the reliability and source of the material before using it for research. No editorial body oversees or fact checks web content, therefore false information makes its way to the Internet every day. Source material from Internet research should always be checked out.
Assess the purpose of your Internet research.
- Do you need objective facts or are you looking for subjective opinions or descriptions? If you're looking for subjective material, then a personal home page may be appropriate for research material. If it's facts you're looking for, then it's not.
- Question what entity would provide the most credible information for your purposes. Would it be a government site or perhaps a university? Maybe it's a newspaper?
- Primary source material is often found on .edu or .gov sites.
Look at the URL for clues about the reliability of the information for Internet research.
- The domain or last three letters of the address tell you whether it is a commercial site (.com), educational (.edu), organization (.org), government (.gov), network (net), or military (.mil) web site.
- Depending on your research material needs, you probably want to avoid .com sites.
- Even an .edu web site doesn't guarantee the integrity of the information. Sometimes the work of students is posted on educational sites.
- A personal name within the URL suggests that you should probably evaluate the web content a little closer to see if it presents reliable information for your research.
Learn who the publisher of the web content is.If it's not immediately apparent, look for a link that says "About Us."
- For example, a web site about insect habitats that is published by an insecticide company may be biased.
Investigate the identity of the author of the web content you want to use.
- What is the author's name and position?
- Does the author represent an organization?
- Does the author have any expertise in the subject matter or is he or she just providing opinion or quoting other sources?
- If a web page is quoting from another web site or source, go to the original source to verify the information. There is nothing to keep someone from changing original source material for his or her purposes.
Check when the web content was created or last updated.
- Many pages have a "last updated" date on them.
- If you're looking for current information, the date of the source material is significant.
Verify information in the source material.You'll often see cited information in published academic work.
- If material is based upon another source, follow the links.
- Look for sources in notes within text, footnotes, endnotes or bibliographies.
Cite sources in your own work.This is often required for academic papers, plus it is considered appropriate to give credit to authors of source material.
- Plagiarism isn't just copying another's work verbatim. It is presenting the ideas of someone else as your own.
- Check with the end users of your research for the preferred citation style. The most common are APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association of America) or Chicago Manual of Style.
- If the author or publisher of a web page is difficult to find, truncate or delete the individual parts of the URL in the address bar from the end to the first single backslash (/). Press enter to take you to the web site publisher's home page.
Video: Web Content Studio - Article Research
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