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Stony Brook University

Using the Internet for Historical Research: Evaluating Internet Resources

Beyond the Open Web

The Library provides access to over 300 databases and other online resources containing high quality content that may not be available on the free, open Web. These sites contain information that is evaluated by editors, librarians, and specialists in their fields of study. They contain information like journal and newspaper articles, data & statistics, and specialized images, video and audio content.

To access the Library’s collection of online resources--information suited for researchers, scholars and students, see our DATABASES Homepage.

Search for a database by SUBJECT (History) or TITLE (JSTOR).

Or you can use the QUICK SEARCH feature right on the Library Homepage (click on the Articles & Databases tab) to look for aticles in Ten major databases.

Guide to Evaluating Internet Resources

Used thoughtfully, the Internet can be a powerful research tool. This guide will help you determine which Internet resources to use for the kind of information you need. To begin, know what you are looking for:

  • Original scientific research?
  • Reference facts like dates?
  • Information on a current event?
  • Information on a not so current event?
  • A critique or evaluation of an important work?

The Internet contains all this and more. However, the Internet is a self-publishing medium. When you use free search engines like Yahoo! or Google, you are getting information that has been provided by anyone with a computer. Basically there is no evaluation process determining what appears online -- that work has to be done by you.

EVALUATING INTERNET RESOURCES WORKSHEET

By asking the following questions, you may be able to determine if the information you find on the Internet is appropriate for your needs:

 PURPOSE

AUTHORSHIP

CONTENT

DESIGN

What is it?

Is it a webpage only, an article from a scholarly journal, a government publication, a sales pitch?

Who is the intended audience for this work, is it meant for professionals, scholars, the general public, customers?

Who is the author and what are his/her credentials or expertise in this area?

Who sponsors the site? Look at the URL of the site:

.com-a commercial enterprise

.gov-government sponsored site

.edu-an educational organization

.org-an organization

Does this add new information or have you read it before?

Is it accurate?

Who funds the site? Does it advertise a product or service?

Is there a bias or point of view?

Is it current?

Who has critiqued the information?

Are the sources clearly stated?

Is it logically and clearly displayed?

Is the writing style appropriate for the audience?

Are there typos or misspellings?

Are the links working?

 

For more information, see Evaluating Internet Information from the Library at Johns Hopkins University.

Librarian

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Chris Filstrup
Contact:
Central Reading Room
Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY 11794
631-523-4635 (cell)