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Physics: Evaluating Sources

What top-level domain names reveal about websites

A link or url tells you quite a bit about where the information on the page comes from and who the intended audience is. The last three letters of a url (uniform resource locator) or link will tell you a great deal about who owns a website, who writes the content and what their purpose is. To find out more about a website, check it on Whois.

Top-level domain

Abbreviation for:

Who uses it Url of example website

.com

commercial commercial entities https://www.amazon.com/

.edu

education universities and colleges https://www.berkeley.edu/

.gov

government U.S. government  https://www.usgs.gov/

.net

network network infrastructure https://www.slideshare.net/

.org

organization nonprofit organizations https://www.sierraclub.org/

.mil

military U.S. military https://www.marines.mil/

Is my source good enough for a college research paper?

This short Website Evaluation Exercise is designed to give you some practice deciding whether articles found on the internet are appropriate for a college level research paper.

The librarian will divide the class into groups of four students each.

Instructions:

The librarian assigns your group one of the articles below, Web Pages to Evaluate.

Skim the article on your own for two or three minutes.

Work as a group to apply/answer the criteria questions on the right, Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages and Websites. (5 min.)

Be prepared to answer the criteria questions out loud as a group - you'll want to elect a spokesperson. (5 min.)

Web Pages to Evaluate- Acoustics

  1. The Physics of Music- Answer Authority and Purpose
  2. Physics of Woodwinds- Answer Currency and Authority
  3. Acoustics of Brass Musical Instruments- Answer Accuracy and Authority
  4. Physics Breakthrough- Answer Purpose and Relevancy

Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages and Websites

Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Process to help you determine whether the sources you find are credible and appropriate choices for your particular research purpose. The questions below will help you think critically during the source evaluation process:

  • Purpose: How and why the source was created. Why does this information exist, why is it in this form (book, article, website, etc.), and who is the intended audience? Is the purpose clear?
  • Relevance: The value of the source for your needs. How useful is this source in answering your question, supporting your argument, or adding to your knowledge? Is the type and content of the source appropriate for your assignment?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information. How thorough and balanced is this source? Does it present fact or opinion? How well do its creators acknowledge their point of view, represent other points of view fully, and critique them professionally?
  • Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information. How well do the creators of this source support their information with factual evidence, identify and cite their sources, and accurately represent information from other sources? Can you find the original source(s) of the information or verify facts in other sources? What do experts say about the topic?
  • Expertise: The authority of the authors and the source. Who created this source and what education and/or professional or personal experience makes them authorities on the topic? How was the source reviewed before publication? Do other experts cite this source or otherwise acknowledge the authority of its creators?
  • Newness: The age of the information. Does your topic require current information? How up-to-date is this source and the information within it? 

Caulfield, Mike. "Four Moves and a Habit." Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, 2017.

P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation by Ellen Carey (6/18/18) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.