Web sites can be sources of great information...but how do you determine what is okay to use in academic papers?
Here are 4 considerations as you assess web sites for use in your assignments.
Author: Who wrote the section, and what are their credentials? What larger organization are they affiliated with? If I google them, what do I find? What is the parent web site?
Bias: Can you identify an angle/slant/bias in the article or on the larger web site? What is the purpose of the study or content—to prove something to a particular group? Can you corroborate the claims with at least 2 other sources?
Content: Is the source accurate? Are there basic mistakes in grammar, dead links, or spelling? When was it posted or last updated or published? Does it contain claims that contradict things you know to be true or even other claims within the article itself?
Support: Does the content have citations or sources? Can you verify the sources? Can you contact the author or organization?
Graphs and maps illustrate some of the major conditions and trends in population, agriculture, biodiversity, forests, water resources, energy, climate, and social and economic development that determine the state of the world's environment. These data give a broad picture of trends over 20 years.
Created to provide an international forum for scholarly discussion and analysis of environmental issues and policy - published by IOPP (Institute of Physics Publishing). Sections on Opinion, Talking Points, Research Highlights and Sustainable Futures include links to related web sources and open-access articles.
The USGS serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.
Scitopia is a search engine that covers the conference proceedings and publications of various physical sciences and engineering organizations. In addition, Scitopia also searches three patent servers: the US Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office, and the Japan Patent Office. A more recent addition is the Department of Energy Information Bridge site, a freely accessible resource that covers a range of technical reports and other documents from the Department and contract laboratories. Everything available through Scitopia is free.
"Publications in the collection include research monographs published by the agency as well as papers written by our scientists but published by other organizations in their journals, conference proceedings, or books. Research results behind these publications have been peer reviewed to ensure the best quality science." (About TreeSearch section of web site)
"The National Map is now offering a collection of small-scale datasets that can be downloaded for free...Small-scale maps have an advantage over large-scale maps when there is a need to show a large area in a single view. This makes small-scale maps an ideal solution for scientists, decision-makers, and planners needing to provide a geographical context for the research projects. Generally, certain geographical and feature details found in large-scale maps are limited or omitted in small-scale maps. The choice of small-scale maps always comes down to the intended use of the final map.
The National Map collection of 197 small-scale datasets can be downloaded at small-scale data download page" (home page).