Help Choosing a Topic | How to Choose Good Resources | How to Critically Analyze a Website
Help Choosing a Topic
If you are having trouble choosing a topic, here's a way to find one:
- Come to the library
- Find an index, dictionary, or encyclopedia that relates to your field.
- Scan the books to see what topics interest you.
- Use the online catalog or our online databases to find books or articles relating to your topic.
- Browse newspapers or magazines in the library for additional ideas.
- Ask a reference librarian if you're having trouble.
Choosing Good Resources
Webster University Library has a great guide to how to locate peer reviewed or scholarly resources and learn the difference between magazine and journal articles.
How to Critically Analyze a Web Site
There are several types of sites:
- Personal pages
- Promotional (to sell a product)
- "Current" --provides up-to-date information (i.e. news articles, etc.)
- Informational to share information on a particular topic or hobby
- Persuasive as propaganda to convert you to their point of view
- Instructional to teach a unit or course of study
- Registrational: to register for courses, information, production, etc
Five evaluative guidelines for Web sites
- Who is responsible for the page?
- What are their qualifications--can you verify them?
- Check the footer at the bottom of the page for author information.
- Are the dates clear when the Web site was first created and last edited?
- Check the footer for information on when the site was last edited.
- Check the content (for news items, etc.) to see if the site is being actively maintained
- What is the coverage of the site?
- Are there clear heading to illustrate an outline of the content?
- Is the navigation clear?
- Check the header for a clear title and Web site description
- Are biases clearly stated?
- Are affiliations clear?
- Check the content for a statement of purpose (i.e. "about the site" or organization)
- Check to see the type of Web site and potential audience--entertainment sites are generally not good for information of a scientific nature. Science Web sites are not good for information on entertainment
- Check the domain (i.e. .gov .com .edu) to determine the organizational source of the Web site and how this reflects on the content type
- Are sources of information and factual data listed and available for crosschecking?
- Check the content for accuracy of spelling, grammar, and facts.
- Check the content for a bibliography of other Web sites, print data, and other references