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Sociology

This guide is intended for students who are doing research in sociology, either for classroom assignments, research papers, or exploring a career in sociology.

Useful, High-Quality Websites

Website Evaluation

Not all sources of information, whether print or online, are equally valuable or reliable. You want to make sure that any web pages you use are HIGH-QUALITY and contain a lot of good, useful information. There is no way to tell instantly if a web page is high-quality or not. You just need to look at it very, very carefully.

It's helpful to understand the difference between a "web page" and a "web site." When we say "web page," we mean one specific document or article, almost always part of a larger web site. Its URL includes characters after the domain such as .com, .edu, .gov,.org, and so on. Example: a web page containing information on the treatment of cancer, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment. A web site is the "umbrella" the web pages fit into, and its URL ends with the domain. Example: the National Cancer Institute, https://www.cancer.gov

AUTHORITY
  • Is the author (if identified) an expert in this field? Can you find the author's credentials?
  • Does the organization responsible for the site have any expertise?
  • Look at the URL. What type of domain is it (.com, .edu, .gov,.org or something else)?
  • Is there contact information, and how complete is it?
  • Is there a page describing the purpose of the overall website ("About Us" or similar)?
OBJECTIVITY
  • What is the purpose of the overall web site, or the specific web page: to inform with facts or data; to sell something; to persuade you; or something else? Does it appeal to your brain, or your emotions?
  • If there is a specific point of view, what is it and how does it affect the usefulness of the information?
ACCURACY
  • Can you tell where the information comes from: are the sources for all facts, statistics and graphs clearly stated?
  • Is the information consistent with other sources?
CURRENCY
  • What is the date of the information?
  • If there's no date given, look at the most recent update or copyright date, though that might not apply to your specific page, and check to make sure all links work.
COVERAGE
  • Is the information complete and freely available?
  • Is there enough useful information on your topic for the web page to be helpful?