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Evaluating the Web

There is some very authoritative information available on the web, and there is also less reliable information. To evaluate sites, consider these criteria:

Purpose: What is the purpose of the site? To inform? To persuade?

Authority: Who is the author of the webite and what are the credentials of that person or entity? The author may be an individual or an organization.

Timeliness: How current is the information? Can you tell when it has last been undated?

Scope: How deep is the website? Is it within your range of comprehension? Is it too simple? Is it too technical?

Finding Scholarly and/or Credible Sites

If quality and credibility are key, these resources lead to scholarly websites on a variety of relevant social work topics:

            

Policy Research on the Web

 
 
The Green Book is a key resource for federal programs. It provides updated statistics and background information on programs such as Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, Foster Care and welfare. Additionally, it includes a discussion of related issues, such as the well-being of the elderly and of children and families.
 
An additional collection of CRS reports, gathered by the University of North Texas Digital Library from 1990 to the present. 
 
Open Congress is a project by the non-profits Participatory Politics Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation. This site helps users track both Senate and House bills, resolutions and votes. Open Congress also provides a way to track political campaign contributions to find possible connections between voting records of Members of Congress and the organizations financing their election campaigns. 
 
A site similar to Open Congress, GovTrack.us provides open information about members of Congress, how they vote, bills they sponsor, and committee membership. Users of this site can track major legislative activity, roll call votes, bills enacted, bills introduced and other information. 
 
State legislative data is available on this site. You can find your state legislators, learn the history of state bills, read the full text of bills,  follow legislative votes and set up alerts on specific legislation or topic areas. 
 
Congress.gov is now the official source for federal legislative information, replacing THOMAS.gov, which will be retired by the end of 2014. Congress.gov is managed by the Library of Congress. It provides a way to search federal legislation, Congressional Committee proceedings,  information on members of Congress and the Congressional Record.  Full text of bills and public laws are available starting with the 93rd Congress (1973). House and Senate roll call votes are available starting with the 101st Congress (1989). The Congressional Record is also searchable from 1995 to the present.
 
MetaLib is a custom search engine from the GPO which allows users to search across multiple U.S. Federal Government databases to retrieve reports, articles and citations. 
 
USA.gov is the official U.S. government web portal for the general public.Information can be found by browsing topics and government agencies or by searching. Links are also available to state, local and tribal government information.   
 
The U.S. Government Printing Office provides links to freely available government hearings, reports, public and private laws, the Federal Register and the U.S. Code. 
 
The Urban Institute is a U.S. think tank which gathers data and takes part in studies and research related to U.S. social policy. Urban Institute Policy Centers include Health Policy, Labor, Human Services & Population Policy, Low-Income Working Families Project and Education Policy. 
 
IssueLab is a collection of over 5,000 foundation sponsored reports on a wide variety of topics. It includes case studies, white papers, evaluations, fact sheets, issue briefs, annual reports and other information.

Recommended Websites

National Association of Social Workers The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with 150,000 members. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.

Information for Practice (IP)  is sponsored by New York University's School of Social Work and is intended to help social service professionals throughout the world to maintain an awareness of news regarding the profession and emerging scholarship. It is a monthly digest and you can subscribe to it on the "about" page. 

Child Welfare League of America serves children and families through its member network of nearly 800 public and private agencies across the U.S.

National Center for Charitable Statistics is a clearinghouse for data on U.S. nonprofit organizations and develops and disseminates quality data on them and their activities for use in research.

Kaiser Family Foundation is a free site "dedicated to filling the need for trusted, independent information on the major health issues" of the US. It contains information and analysis for a wide range of readers, from policy makers and health care practitioners to journalists and the general public. The site also serves as a clearinghouse for important heath policy news and can be browsed by topics or by report type.