For most students, the internet is the 21st century equivalent of a library. It contains books, articles, research papers, course videos, and everything else you can refer to when writing an essay. But you also need to avoid unverified data that is surplus on the internet.
A 2019 survey by CIGI found that 86% of internet surfers were duped by fake news. So, the question is, how can you find genuine sources that give you credible information? Read on to learn some practical tips on finding reliable sources for your citations.
How to Find Credible Internet Sources
Academic writing requires you to include authentic data and verified facts. One instance of false detail in your essay can result in a bad grade. Hence, you must bear in mind the below tips while conducting your research on the web. You can also opt for an English essay writing service if you need additional help with your assignments.
Understand Domain Names
Every website has a domain name with a domain suffix at the end of it. These suffixes help you understand the kind of website you are looking at. Most websites end with “dot com,” which represents commercial websites. While these are most common, very few commercial websites are trustworthy in terms of academic research.
Sites that end with “dot gov” indicate government websites. These sites contain government rules and regulations, bills, laws, and statistics. Data found here is usually credible, as these are authoritative websites.
Another important suffix is “dot edu.” It indicates educational institutions and is used by some well-known universities, such as Yale and Harvard. You can find research papers and surveys on these websites that put across authentic information and can be used in your essays. But some of the “dot edu” websites are run by students and can contain school blogs and student opinions, so verification of facts is necessary.
Similarly, “dot org” is a reliable domain suffix used by non-profit organizations. These organizations are usually unbiased and aim to provide only genuine, helpful information. Yet, some organizations promote their own ideas and may give out misleading data.
Move from Google Search to Google Scholar
One of the best places to look for scientific evidence and reliable data is Google Scholar. While Google Search shows you all kinds of results, Google Scholar helps you access research papers and scholarly articles specific to your search. It also has additional tools, such as Digital Object Identifiers (DOI), that you can use to verify research papers.
While the search is free to use, you may need to pay an access fee for some resources. The search is ideal for university-level essays and academic papers that require citations.
Verify from Multiple Sources
If you suspect any stat or data to be non-credible, try looking for other sources that mention the same information. Usually, authentic data is reported by multiple sources, which you can find through a simple Google search. You can also try looking for hyperlinks or citations that trace the data back to its origin. If the detail is only found on a particular website and has no other mention on the internet, most likely, it is fake.
Wikipedia Requires Verification Too
Most of us are guilty of citing Wikipedia as a source at least once. The website is extremely useful and contains a plethora of information. But, the data on it is crowd-sourced, which means any person can log in and edit any page on the website.
Sometimes, people deliberately place wrong information on Wikipedia. Other times, even experts unknowingly put up incorrect details. And unlike other websites, there is no way to verify if the data on Wikipedia is accurate. Though the volunteers continuously work to maintain the credibility of the website, there are simply too many people who have edit access to the pages.
And this stands true for any other open website or online forum. These sites are best to kickstart your research, but you need a more credible source to utilize the data in your essay.
Check the Author Name and Credentials
Another way to look for dependable information is to research the author and their credentials. Is the author an expert in the given area? Have they written/spoken frequently on related topics? What makes their writing credible?
Usually, looking at the work designation or qualification of the author gives you sufficient clues on how reliable their piece is. Looking them up and understanding their expertise might also give you links to more information on related topics. But if there is no author name and an anonymous writer writes the article, then be cautious as the information can be false.
Look for Established Sources
Certain universities like MIT and organizations like UNESCO are well-known for their surveys and research. They have already established themselves as trustworthy sources. Data on their websites rarely needs additional verification, so you can easily cite them in your essays.
Wrapping It Up
Information found on the internet is often unregulated and requires verification for academic use. Though a lot of data found here is a hoax, some trusted websites give credible information. Before using any data in your academic essay, find and verify the sources using the above tips and only then use the reliable data.