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INF200 Research Skills Guide: Using Internet resources

Internet Resources

The Internet can be an excellent source of high quality, reliable information, and depending on the context of your assessment task, you might need to use various Internet resources in your assessment throughout your degree. 

When we talk about Internet resources, we're not talking about the journal articles you find online via Primo, or eBooks in the Library's collection; we're talking about resources you find outside the university's online environment, on the wider Internet. This can include information from authoritative websites, videos, and articles.

You need to evaluate the information you're using carefully. Some of it will not be appropriate to use in an academic context. See the Evaluating Internet Sources box below for more information. 

Resources you might commonly use include:

  • Open access scholarly books and journal articles, found via Google Scholar;
  • Website content from authoritative sources including government and educational institutions;
  • Video resources from reliable producers.

Other sources including Wikipedia can be used to gather background information on a topic or find references, but are not credible enough to reference in your assessment. 

Evaluating Internet Sources

It is crucial to question the quality of the information you gather from the Internet, as anyone can publish anything online. Some people are great at knowing whether or not a website is reputable, while others find it difficult to tell. Luckily, anyone can develop the skills to analyse websites - it is just a matter of knowing what to look for and a bit of practice.

To evaluate information on the internet, use the criteria of currency, authority, reliability and purpose as you would for any other kinds of information. 

Currency

Is it current enough for your topic? A general rule is to use resources published in the last 5 years.

Has the website been recently updated? Does it reference current sources?

Reliability

Does the author support their argument with evidence?

Does the website provide references? Are those references reputable and/or scholarly?

Authority

Was the website made by someone reputable? For example, an individual expert in the topic, or an organisation, institution or government body with a leading reputation in the field?

Purpose

Is the information fact or opinion? Is it biased or balanced? Does it feel like they're pushing an agenda?

Is website trying to sell you something? Is there a lot of advertising on the page?

If the source of your information does not pass these criteria, or you cannot find a key piece of information like the date published, or who has published the information, perhaps reconsider using that information.

Using Google Scholar

Evaluating information

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