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Countries and Cultures

Finding library and web resources to research a topic in another country

Tips for Answering "What" (CONTENT)

Two questions down, one to go!  As our final task, let's look at the Content of the website, or exactly WHAT it offers.  In each of the boxes to the right, we have listed important questions to ask yourself.  Be sure to use the techniques we've listed to help you evaluate the site.

Is the site well-organized?

  • Try navigating through the site by clicking on the links. Sites where you can't move around easily may not be updated and may contain outdated or inaccurate information.
  • Look for a search box on the homepage of the site. Quality sites usually allow you to search on your topic specifically within their site.

Is this for real??

  • Keep an eye out for outrageous photographs or unlikely images, which are typically used in satirical or parody sites.
  • Determine if the information matches what you already know about the topic.
  • Check the accuracy of the information against other sources, such as books, articles, or other websites.
  • Identify the “Author” using the techniques in this handout. Accuracy of the information is closely linked to authority.
  • When searching for medical information, Look for the HON Code. If this code is on the website, it means that the site was approved as credible medical information on the web.

Is there enough info?

  • Read through the content to check if the information is providing enough detail and answering all of your questions.
  • If the information is not in-depth enough, look for a book on the topic through the Library Catalog or an article through the Library article database.

Is this info current & timely?

  • The date can usually be found toward the very top or very  bottom of the page. Undated factual or statistical information is useless.
  • Make sure that the date is attached to the actual content you are viewing - - not just a date for the homepage of the organization.
  • Copyright © dates often indicate the first year the website was published not the date of the content. Look for other more recent dates on the webpage.
  • Beware of automated dates. Sometimes the date is automatically reset to “today’s date” instead of the date of the content.“Last Updated” dates might indicate only a minor change, such as a spelling correction.
  • How important is the date to your topic? Certain subjects like science, medicine, & current events (news) change frequently. For these subjects, you typically need current information.

Are there errors on the pages?

  • Look for spelling and grammatical mistakes, which can be clues that the information is inaccurate.
  • Consider the “tone” of the page. Outlandish “tones” may contain inaccurate information just to be entertaining.

Are references provided?

  • Check for footnotes, references or a bibliography, usually at the bottom of a webpage. Web content that is documented, especially with scholarly journals or books, is often accurate.
  • Beware of fake references. Try to locate at least one of the references to verify it's true.
  • Look for “links,” “additional sites,” “related links” from the webpage. Links that work and go to reliable websites usually indicate quality content.

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