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Getting Started: Research

Authority and Affiliation - Background

Anyone can publish information to the Web, so it is crucial to understand who the author is and whether the author is qualified or expert enough to provide reliable information.

Questions to Ask

  • Who wrote the page?
  • Is he/she an expert on the subject?
  • What type of domain is the site attached to?
  • Are the sources for factual information clearly listed?
  • Can facts and figures be verified in another source?
  • How does this information compare with other sources of information on the topic?
  • Does the author's affiliations (i.e., company, university, government entity, organization) present a potential for bias?

Understanding Domains

Domain descriptions image

Hints

  • Select sources from established and well-respected publishers/authors/organizations rather than ones you know very little about. Be sure your sources are authoritative (see example on next page).
  • Seek information from government agencies, trade and professional organizations, and major universities and research centers, which tend to be more reliable and regulated.
  • Avoid using sources without an identified author. 
  • Articles with an identified author are the best sources, since knowing an author’s name enables you to research his or her qualifications.
  • Be aware of grammatical and spelling errors because they signify poor editorial regulation and minimize the authority of a piece.
  • Validate or cross-check statistical information, research findings, claims, and other factual information.

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