In the boxes below, you will find six steps to get you started on your research. These steps include: identifying a topic, finding background information, using the online catalog to find books (and more), using databases to find articles, evaluating what you find, and citing your sources. There is also a drop down page showing how to use online resources. If you would like a more in depth look at research basics, visit the Searching: Getting Started Guide.
Identify and outline your topic
Evaluate the information you have found on your topic. Think critically and consider the following:
Remember: anyone can publish anything on the web
Remember: Web coverage is often different from print coverage.
The Online Resources found at the Roosevelt University Web site (www.roosevelt.edu/library) are different from your typical Internet sources. These resources are subscription based and require your authentication as a Roosevelt student. These resources have been selected and reviewed by the librarians and faculty at RU for their reliability, comprehensiveness, and usefulness. Be aware that many free Internet sources have not undergone any kind of review process. Remember – anyone can publish anything on the web! Internet users must be able to separate the good from the bad. By using the following tips, you should be able to find the best sources available on the web.
Look at the URL or Web address. Does it sound professional? Does it have a catchy or humorous title? Be careful of sites whose URL sounds too unprofessional.
1. Domain: Who or what is sponsoring the Web site? Take a look at the table below to explore the differences in web domains.
|.com – a commercial site. Be sure to examine closely, its goal is to sell you something.||
.gov – United States Government sponsored web site. The information may not always be objective, but all government documents and publications are freely available online.
.edu – sponsored by a college or university, these can be especially helpful. However, you should be cautious of personal sites of students or faculty, usually containing a ~ or % in the URL, these sites may simply reflect the opinion of the individual.
.org – sponsored by a non-profit organization. These can provide a wealth of information about an organization as well as some hot topic issues. Be wary of any kind of bias the organization may have. Check the mission statement or the “About us” link from the web site for more information.
2. Authority: Who is the author? Is the author an expert? What are his/her credentials?
3. Accuracy: Is the information reliable and error-free? Does someone verify the information?
4. Objectivity: Is there evidence of bias? Does the page contain advertising?
5. Currency: When was the page last updated? How current are the links?
6. Coverage: Is the information in-depth? How complete is the information? Is the information free, or is there a fee to obtain it?
If you want to read more, visit these sites that ask in depth questions about accuracy and evaluation when conducting research online.