How To Evaluate The Validity Of A Website For Use In A Research Paper
The days of trawling through text books ad-infinitum are long gone. Whether we like it or not we live in a technology driven world and using the internet to help us with our research can be invaluable. However, most things in life come with drawbacks and pitfalls and the internet is no exception. While there are scores of really reputable websites there are also a lot of dodgy sites where plagiarism prevails. If you take the time to consider that you might spend months working on this, you really don’t want to end up having someone accuse you of foul play, or even simply being accused of submitting flawed or substandard work.
So, how do you evaluate the validity of a website? Here are my top tips:
Who else uses it?
I think that the ultimate litmus test is who else uses the website? Most students, particularly from the same area tend to gravitate towards the same sites. Ask around. Do any of your friends, or friends of friends have particular sites that they use on a regular basis? This is particularly useful if you are all working in the same field.
Does your college or university endorse it?
You need to realize that your academic institution is like a well-oiled machine. They have been down this route so many times and they fully understand the difficulties that students are likely to find themselves in. Because they want you to be the very best that you can possibly be, then most will have put together comprehensive lists of approved or recommended resources. I would suggest referring to this as a matter of urgency.
Search for reviews
Searching online for reviews of a given website. Or actively contacting their testimonials is an excellent way of getting a feel for the authenticity of a site. A lot of sites will put up bogus testimonials and assume that no-one will ever check them out. If you do happen to do some due diligence and they don’t check out then by all means feel free to name and shame them!
Look for grammatical errors
If you are planning on turning over your research paper to a particular company then you need to make sure that they are reputable. One easy way of doing this is to check the site for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. If you spot any, give them a wide berth!