Perhaps the first issue you should decide when you find a web source is its relevancy. The answers to two questions can help you decide if the material is relevant. While you’ll need to go all the way to the end of the ROAD to see if the source is usable in your research, the first question will help you decide whether you should spend more time with the web source or quickly discard that web source and move on to the next one.
Question 1: Is the web source related to my research paper topic?
To answer this question, you must make an assessment of the content of the web source and decide if it is relevant to your topic. To put it another way, the web source must be usable in your research paper. If you’re writing about learning styles in the education setting and one of the results of your web search led to a website on different management styles in the corporate setting, you most likely will not be able to use the information, even if you find it entertaining and informative.
Question 2: Is the web source current?
To be relevant to your research paper, the web source will most likely need to be current. You have to make two judgments about the ‘currency’ of information when it comes to web sources. First, you must know about what signifies as current in your field. For example, our education major writing about learning styles is likely to need more recently published information than a literature major writing about Plato’s The Last Days of Socrates. Whether you’re searching for information on learning styles or Plato, you must be concerned with the currency of your web document in another way. Look for indications that the material is kept up-to-date. There may be dates on the page to indicate when it was first written, when it was last updated, or when it was last revised.
Again, these two questions (Is the web source related to my research paper topic? and Is the web source current?) will help you decide the issue of relevancy.
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