Students’ lives become much easier as technologies emerge. Our grandparents’ generation had no other choice than to spend time in the libraries. They had to look for credible sources manually. In 2021, all you need for your research is a gadget with internet access to have almost any book, article, or published paper.
However, not all the sources on the web are trustworthy. Students should never forget that the quality of a paper depends on the quality of the sources used in it. The ability to find appropriate ones is essential.
Of course, you can always use a homework helper where the experts can check it for you. But how to ensure yourself that the source is credible? To answer that question, we prepared twelve tips on how to do it.
Who Is the Author?
To write a trustworthy article, one should have respective education or experience. That is why you should always check who the author is. It is crucial to know if this person is a professional in the field and the organization they are associated with. The credentials of the author indicate whether the article is reliable.
Believe Up-to-Date Information
There was a time when people believed that the Earth is flat. There is no doubt that you will not want to use the documents from that time to build an argument for your astronomy paper. The same works for any other subject. That is why, before including any information in your writing, check when the website had the last updates. Do the arguments still make sense?
Compare the Headline with the Text
Some websites tend to use catchy headlines to attract visitors. For that reason, you should read the whole article carefully. Check if the main points have scientific explanations. Make sure the author’s arguments are based on facts and the catchy headline isn’t the only good thing about the article.
Who Are the Commentators?
Another way to pick out a credible source is to check who commented on it. For instance, you may see that the only people who engage with the webpage are suspicious bots or illiterate commentators. In that case, consider not visiting this site or using it for your paper. A scholarly website should receive appreciation from researchers, professors, and specialists in the field.
The most credible articles are published on reputable websites. For example, it has long been clear that Wikipedia is not the most reliable source to use. Unless you open it to find the bibliography, it may not help you with your research. It’s better to choose non-biased content, such as scholarly journals and other licensed educational resources.
Look for Supporting Documentation
If you want to be sure that the article is credible, check the additional items and documents it has. For example, by using visual items, the author usually proves the point. Some researchers attach raw data and documents for participants. Besides, these kinds of attachments may be helpful for your future writing.
Check the Domain Name
There are a few domain names considered as more trustworthy than the rest. Usually, reliable websites have the following letters at the end of their names:
- .edu (educational) – university web resources
- .gov (government) – official governmental websites
- .org (non-profit) – professional organizations
- .com (commercial) – commercial websites (some of them)
However, the domain name does not determine everything. You still should be careful with biased and promotion materials.
Verify the Information
This would be the most obvious tip on the list. Yet, this rule is always relevant. Sometimes, students trust the first source they read and go with it. To make sure the paper’s information is correct, try to scan other reliable websites for similar arguments. That is how you will know that the source can be used in your paper.
Use Scholarly Databases and Libraries
Students may underestimate what they already have. Almost every school has its database with free access. Probably, it’s the most credible source you can rely on. Moreover, there are a few worldwide-known databases such as LexisNexis Academic and EBSCO.
Also, don’t forget about libraries. Going there could not be as convenient as using the internet, but there are always many outstanding books and articles. Some sources can be already digitized, which simplifies the process. Moreover, library sources may help you confirm the information you found online.
Don’t Forget About Media
Although sometimes, media outlets can have biased and controversial information, it is not always a bad idea to use them in your paper. Newspapers and magazines can be handy for essays on current events. Finally, the very topic of media representation calls for using these sources.
Proper Citing Is a Must
A reliable website should have proper citations and references. To trust it, you should see what sources serve as references for it. If the website cites information from tabloids or similar sources or there are no sources at all, stay away from it.
In this article, just some ways to ensure the credibility of a website are presented. To have fruitful results, you can verify the sources using several or all methods.