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VOGEL LIBRARY

Getting Started IS 101 and beyond:
Websites

Research tips for introduction AND review.

So is an article from a library database a web source?

When your professors don't allow website sources, they typically mean online sources that are published directly to the web and that do not resemble traditional publishing models. They do not mean articles that you find in online databases, as these are not web-published but print publisehd...at least, they used to be. 

The distinction between the two is a lot fuzzier now, as credible websites have developed and some databases now search web resources in additional to digitized print materials.

It's more important to know what you are looking at--which you can find out by performing the SIFT evaluation actions and applying the PATS aspects and questions.

So What Kind of Source is a Website?

A website could be any kind of source--
  • overview to get you started
  • narrow like an article
  • or even in-depth like a book.
A website could be perfectly credible
  • You get to evaluate it to decide. See the How To: Evaluation page
  • NO domain is automatically credible:
    • .com = this could be a variety of site types--no longer only not-credible businesses
    • .org = anyone can have a .org site, is no longer only nonprofits
    • .edu = the pages will be affiliated with an educational institution--but sometimes these are simply student papers
    • .gov = US government pages...depends on the government agency
A website can also be garbage 
 

Content Aggregators =

  • No original information
    • Lists of link, copied and pasted texts from other sites, no apparent author
    • Tons of ads
Content Farms
  • No verified information
    • Authors have little to no scholarly, experiential, or journalistic credibility
    • Authors are paid by quantity, not quality: they take only a few minutes to write each article
    • Articles are not edited or fact-checked

Unfortunately, none of these websites will actually call themselves "content aggregators" or "content farms," so you have to learn how to recognize the clues and realize for yourself.