Locating webpage information related to authorship, date of update, and domain names
Accurate and comprehensive (complete) information is the basis for all informed decision-making. Whenever you do research, your goal should be to find accurate and complete information to inform your work. For this assignment, you will be finding sources on the World Wide Web using a free search engine such as Google.
There are many aspects to the research process. In this tutorial, we are going to focus on locating information on a webpage that tells us who wrote it, when it was last updated, and who is behind the webpage.
Google is a database that indexes webpages, documents (both Word and PDF), blogs, YouTube, and so on. Google uses crawlers to do its work, and no one oversees the quality of the pages that Google indexes. That is why, if you are going to use a search engine such as Google as a part of your search strategy, you need to learn to look carefully at the sources you find and ask yourself some basic questions.
Where in the world did this Web page come from????
Dissecting the URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
When you find yourself on a webpage you are not familiar with, the first thing you should do is examine the Web address, or URL, because it can tell you a great deal about the origin of the site.
Examine the domain extension to determine the type of organization responsible for the site
Some of the more common ones are:
- .com – commercial or anybody sites (same as .co)
- .org – organizations (no longer restricted to non-profits)
- .net – networks
- .gov and .mil – government sites
- .edu – university sites
- University sites are usually reliable, but there are exceptions – Beware the “tilde” as it signifies a personal page on the university’s server (http://academics.rmu.edu/~tomei/ed711psy/c_ausub.htm)
- .k-12 – schools
- Country codes are also used (.au = Australia; .ca = Canada; .de = Germany; .fr = France; .uk = United Kingdom; .nz = New Zealand)
Controls over certain domains are not very tight, especially country codes, so you should never rely on a domain name alone to determine where the site is from.
Here are some other questions you should ask yourself before using a website in your research:
- What are the author’s credentials? Know when credentials matter.
- Is the source known and respected? Check the domain name. Does the source come from the government or a university, or another well-respected source?
- What do we know about the organization that publishes the website? Is there an About Us page that provides enough information for you to make an informed judgment? Check out this site.
- Is there any way to contact the source?
- Can you tell whether the information is “fresh” or whether it is outdated information on your topic?
- Has the source been linked to by other respected sources? (Search link:URL in your favorite search engine to find out what others say about your source. *This works in at least Google, Bing, & Yahoo!)
- Does a high ranking on search engine results mean a source is authoritative?
If you need help with your assignment, stop into the library during study halls and before or after school. And don’t forget Library Chat, your 24/7 access to TKCS libraries!
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