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Research 101

Using resources from the open Internet may be acceptable in some cases, but there a few important things to consider:

Types of sources you may find on the internet:

  • General information (Wikipedia)
  • Government sources (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congress website)
  • News coverage (New York Times, Chicago Tribune)
  • Specialized information (Non-Profit, lobbying, or professional organizations websites)

While these sources are not considered scholarly, since they are intended for a general audience, they may still be credible and provide some information you can use to support your research. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Who is the intended audience of this information? Is it created  for a general audience, or a specific group such as scholars or professionals?
  • What authority does the author/publisher have on this subject? Or what sources of authority are they citing or quoting?
  • What is the purpose of this information? What intention did the author or publisher have when publishing it?
  • When was it published? Finding dates on static internet pages such as government or non-profits can sometimes be challenging, but credible news sources always have a date.
  • How are you going to use the information you've found? Is this background information or quality, cite-able information?
  • Is there a better (scholarly) source for this information? The answer could be no if it is a very recent event, unlikely to be covered in scholarly books or articles yet.