How the author supports his or her arguments may help decide the authority of the document, so the issue of documentation is important. Again, ask yourself two questions to determine if the documentation in the web source is appropriate.
Question 1: Is there documentation in the web source?
Like your own research paper, your web sources should be well-researched. If the web source doesn’t contain any documentation, ask yourself where the authors obtained the material. The document may not be trustworthy if there is no cited information. When the author has cited information, consider the sources that the author has cited. As in your own papers, you want to see research that is important and/or up-to-date in the field of study. The author should demonstrate an understanding of the field or body of literature surrounding the topic. Especially valuable may be the author’s discussion of his or her methodology of research.
Question 2: Is the information accurate?
Obviously, you want to include accurate information in your papers. Information that you obtain from web sources should be verifiable. You may wish to check your web source against other sources, perhaps even some the author of the web source provides. Harris (1997) indicates, “See if other sources support this source. Corroboration or conformability is an important test of truth (p. 9).”
Now that you’ve found the ROAD to evaluating your Internet sources, remember that you’ll always need to cite these sources when you include information from them in your research papers. The Student Success Center has handouts on APA and MLA Style that provide guidance in citing sources. If you’re a UHV student, you can discuss citing information with a peer tutor.
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