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HSCI 345: Public Health Issues

Evaluating Websites

In this video you will learn: How to determine if a website is a good source for your assignment.

Evaluate Scholarly Sources

What are Scholarly/Academic/Peer-reviewed Sources?

Scholarly/academic/peer-reviewed sources are sources written by experts and are reviewed by experts in the field before the article is published.

 

Why Do I Need to Evaluate Scholarly Sources?

You may consider scholars with subject expertise have authority in the area of your research topic and thus produce only good sources. However, like all types of sources and authorities, scholarly sources vary a lot by date, scope, method, and etc, making only some of them appropriate to cite in your research. Scholarly sources may have totally valid evidence but not so relevant to your research. 

 

How Do I Evaluate Scholarly Sources?

Finding a good scholarly source to use can sometimes be a messy process, but below are some questions you can ask yourself in order to determine if the academic article is worth using in your research.

  • Date: Some topics, such as those in the health sciences, require current information. Other subjects, such as geology, value older material as well as current. Know the time needs of your topic and examine the timeliness of the article; is it:
    • up-to-date,
    • out-of-date, or
    • timeless?
  • Usefulness: Is the article relevant to the current research project? A well-researched, well-written, etc. article is not going to be helpful if it does not address the topic at hand. Ask, "is this article useful to me?" If it is a useful article, does it:
    • support an argument
    • refute an argument
    • give examples (survey results, primary research findings, case studies, incidents)
    • provide "wrong" information that can be challenged or disagreed with productively
  • Impact: Scholars have combined standard research metrics, like scholarly output and citation counts, into formulas to measure and assess author and journal impact in new ways. There are usually different types of metrics for different purposes, but in general, you can pay attention to
    • the number of times an article was cited to evaluate the scholarly output of a scholar
    • the number of times articles published for a journal to evaluate the impact of a journal
    • metrics in databases as shown below

 

More information about factors to consider when evaluating scholarly articles

More information about understanding impact 

How To Fact Check

Sick and tired of seeing misinformation? Never know who or what to trust? Can't figure out if what you've heard is true? Feel Duped? Want better tools to sort truth from fiction? Here's a quick guide to sorting out facts, weighing information and being knowledgeable online and off

Check Credentials - Is the author specialized in the field that the article is concerned with? Does s/he currently work in that field? Check LinkedIn or do a quick Google search to see if the author can speak about he subject with authority and accuracy.

Read the “About Us” section. Does the resource have one? It may be on a tab at the top of the page, or a link at the bottom of the page, but all reputable websites will have some type of About Us section and will provide a  way for you to contact them.

Look for Bias - does the article seem to lean toward a particular point of view? Does it link to sites, files, or images that seem to skew left or right? Biased articles may not be giving you the whole story.

Check the Dates - Like eggs and milk, information can have an expiration date. In many cases, use the most up-to-date information you can find.

Check out the Source - When an article cites sources, it's good to check them out. Sometimes, official-sounding associations are really biased think tanks or represent only a fringe view of a large group of people. If you can't find sources, read as much about the topic as you can to get a feel for what's already out there and decide for your self if the article is accurate or not.

Use the CRAAP Test - Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority and Purpose.

Interrogate urls - We see quite a bit of domain manipulation these days. For instance, what looks like an .edu domain, followed by .co or “lo” is likely a fake or deceptive site.  If you are you seeing a slightly variant version of a well-known URL, do a little investigating.

Who owns the website posting the information? - You can find out at either http://whois.domaintools.com or at https://whois.icann.org. Both of these websites allow you to perform a WHOIS search. Whenever someone registers a website address, they are required to enter their contact information. When you get to your WHOIS search, enter in the domain (the first part of the website URL). This step can be used to collect all the information when you question a source or the information purpose.

Suspect the sensational - When you see something posted that looks sensational, it is even more important to be skeptical. Exaggerated and provocative headlines with excessive use of capital letters or emotional language are serious red flags.

Judge Hard - If what you're reading seems too good to be true, or too weird, or too reactionary, it probably is.

Source: 

http://iue.libguides.com/fakenews & http://abqlibrary.org/FakeNews/FactCheck

Google Advanced Search

To find US government websites use Google Advanced Search https://www.google.com/advanced_search . 

In the filed entitled "domain name" enter .gov

This maybe more difficult of other countries as .gov is the domain name used by the US government. In this case attempt to look for a relevant ministry for the country your are researching. For example if you are researching the Zika  epidemic in Brazil, do a Google search for the ministry of health in Brazil and add the keyword Zika.