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Argument and research: Websites

A guide for researching argument writing and speech assignments

Using websites

checkmarkWebsites can provide up-to-date information and can quickly lead you to further information 

How do you know if a website's information is:

  • authoritative  
  • accurate
  • current
  • objective
  • appropriate?

The crucial TRICK is to evaluate if you have a "good" website:

Evaluating sources criteria

evaluationNot all resources are created equal! There are a number of criteria to consider when determining whether or not a source is reliable (able to be trusted) and appropriate for your academic work.

1. Authorship

  • Who is the author?
  • What makes the author an expert in the field he or she is writing about? What are his or her qualifications? Does he or she have education or work experience in the field? Has he or she published anything else about the subject? (HINT: Google the name of the author to find this information).
  • If there isn't an author listed, is the information authored by a government, corporate, or non-profit agency?  Is the agency or organization recognized in the field in which you are studying, and is it suitable to address your topic?

2. Point of View or Bias

  • Does the source promote one point of view or one agenda?
  • Is the information provided as fact or opinion?
  • If the information is found online, does the Web site have advertisements? If so, are the ads part of or separate from the rest of the site?

3. Currency

  • Does your topic require current information?
  • Does the source include a date of publication or a "last updated" date?

4. References to Other Sources

  • Does the source include a bibliography or links to other web sites?
  • What types of sources are cited (primary/secondary, popular/scholarly, current/historical, etc.)

5. Relevance to Topic and Assignment

  • Is the information you found related to and useful for your topic and assignment?
  • Is the source the appropriate type for your needs?  For example, do you need a book or a scholarly journal article? Do you need primary or secondary sources of information?
  • Is the information too broad or too specific?

Image source:  "Evaluation" by NY is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Using Google Advanced Search

Flex your research muscles - use Google Advanced Search to get better results when searching on the internet

Shortcut to Google Advanced Search:

Example for using Google Advanced Search:

Sample topic:

You are researching how stem cells from human embryos might help cure conditions such as Parkinson's Disease or cancer.


How can you use Google's Advanced Search to help you efficiently find websites that are MOST RELEVANT to this topic?

  1. In the "this exact wording or phrase" box, type:  human embryonic stem cells
  2. In the "But don't show pages that have any of these unwanted words" box, type: cancer OR parkinson's disease
  3. In the "Search within a site or domain" box, type: .gov
  4. Click Search!
  5. The resulting search will automatically be: human embryonic stem cells" cancer OR "parkinson's disease" -cloning

screenshot of using Google Advanced Search

Video: Searching Google effectively

Source: "Searching Google Effectively" by Joshua Vossler, UWF Libraries, Educational use.

Video: Evaluating information from the Web

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