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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

Text Version of Navigating the Web

Page address: http://lib.mnsu.edu/research/navwebtext.html
 

Navigating the Web

Welcome to Navigating the Web, a module brought to you by Minnesota State University, Mankato's Library Services

 

Module Objectives

In this module, we will investigate:

1. If freely available websites are appropriate for your assignments

2. Tips to determine the quality of a website

3. Copyrighted, fee-based websites

4. Another type of information resource: the Minnesota State Mankato Library Services website

 

Sources of Information

Books, newspapers, websites, journals, wikis. With all this information to choose from, how can you decide what sources are appropriate for your research at Minnesota State Mankato?

 

Starting Research on the Web

For many of us, we begin looking for information for our assignments by going to our favorite search engine like Google

 

Starting Research on Web 2

Search engines like Google or Yahoo are gateways to freely available websites

 

Minnesota State Mankato Library Website

while a site like the Minnesota State Mankato library homepage is a gateway to information assessable to only MSU students, faculty, and staff.

 

Up to the Minutes News

The web often has up-to-the-minute information like a breaking news story. But you will soon find that anyone can publish a freely available website.

 

An Expert's Website

A web site might come from a highly qualified expert, like Stephen Hawking

 

5th Grader's Website

or from 5th graders publishing their history reports.

 

Your Assignment Requirements

Before gathering information on the web, ask, “What type of information do I need for my assignment?” The easiest way to begin finding information is knowing what you can and cannot use. In your assignment, can you use information based on personal opinions or do you need information supported by research or other types of evidence?

 

Example Assignment

Most college-level assignments require information developed through research, rather than information based on personal opinions. Books and journal articles frequently use research based information. If your instructor requires books and journal articles, freely available websites are not the best sources. You’ll want to use the Library Services web site, but more about the library later.

 

Beginning Your Search

Once you have a clear understanding of the kind of information you can use for your assignment and you start searching the web,

 

Which Site to Choose?

you will be confronted with the issue of finding quality sites.

 

Which Site to Choose? 2

Since anyone can publish a website, how can you tell if a site is reliable? Ask yourself...

 

Why was this Site Created?

Why was this website created?

 

Sites to Entertain

Some websites are created to entertain…These sites are created to grab your attention with sensational or humorous headlines. They are meant for fun, but not to inform.

 

For Profit Sites

Some websites are created to make money…While they may provide some information, this information supports the main goal of the site and that is to sell you something!

 

Sites to Persuade

Some websites are created to persuade you…The main purpose of these sites is to change your point of view. The information presented heavily promotes one side of an argument. For instance, just reading the title of this website Legalization of Marijuana reveals the authors' position on this topic. It is highly unlikely this site will contain any negative information on the use of marijuana.

 

Opinions and Incomplete Information

If you are working on an assignment that requires research based information you would not want to use persuasion sites that do not cite their source of information or rely on opinion rather than fact in an effort to promote their ideas.

 

Sites to Educate

On the other hand, some websites are created to educate and inform the public…These sites are helpful especially as you begin learning about a topic. You will often find websites with addresses ending in .gov or .edu have reliable information.

 

Citing Their Sources

These sites usually list the information the authors' used to write the page and those sources are a good sign that this information is trustworthy. Look for pages that cite their sources with footnotes,

 

References and Bibliographies

bibliographies, or references.

 

Check Multiple Sources

Still aren’t sure of the quality of a site? Check other sources such as news, government, and education sites. Even better compare the information you found on the questionable website with information in books and journal articles. If you cannot find other sources that support the information in the website, it is highly unlikely that that website is reliable!

 

Searching the Web for Scholarly Information

As you continue to search freely available websites for reliable information...

 

Searching the Web for Scholarly Information 2

you will find numerous sites with valuable content for your assignments.

 

Finding Only Journal Abstracts

But there is one big problem...Many sites will only show an abstract or summary of an article or book. In order to access the complete content,

 

Don't Pay for information

you may be asked to pay a fee or register to use the site. The reasons for these restrictions is that the material is copyright protected. But you don't have to register or pay a fee

 

Access Copyrighted Information through MSU Library Website

Because you can often access the same information from Minnesota State, Mankato’s Library Services website

 

Choosing a Library Database

From the library web site...

 

Entering Your Search in a Library Database

you have access to quality, copyrighted information, 24 hours a day...

 

Choosing Article from Results List

7 days a week, on or off campus

 

Same Information from the Library

Sources like this online database within the library website allow you to access to information

 

Complete Online Content or Full Text

with the complete content, or full text, at no charge to you.

 

Conclusion

Remember…The freely available websites are often good sources of up to-the-minute information and personal opinions You will need to evaluate the information on each site to determine its reliability since anyone can publish a website. If you are having difficulty judging the quality of the site, compare that site with other sources of information like books and journal articles. And finally, some information on the web is not free because of copyright. You can often find this copyrighted information through the Library Services website.