Educational Psychology & Counseling 602: Research Principles: Web Sites

In addition to books and journals, Web sites can be a valuable source of information as long as you use sound judgment. For guidance in choosing Internet sources, see Evaluating Print & Internet Resources. The following Web sites are recommended:

  • American Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/) is the producer of PsycINFO and other literature databases, over 50 journals, countless books and, of course, the APA writing style guide. With 150,000 members, it is the largest association of psychologists worldwide. There is a page specifically for students (http://www.apa.org/students/) which includes a free job bank. Student membership in APA is $43 a year for graduate students.
  • GLSEN Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (http://www.glsen.org/) is an advocacy group for members of the PreK-12 school community stuggling with issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Educators Resources Page offers lesson plans, curricular tools, information on teacher training programs, a listing of local chapters and student clubs, a library of free online resources, and a book shop.  
  • MedlinePlus (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/) from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Excellent source of consumer-level information on many diseases and conditions. Also provides links to MEDLINE searches, a medical encyclopedia and dictionary, Spanish-languange materials, drug information, and numerous links to other websites. 
  • Teaching Tolerance (http://www.tolerance.org/) from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Provides free educational materials that promote respect for differences and appreciation of diversity. There is also content for kids, teens, and parents. Publisher of the award-winning magazine Teaching Tolerance (http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/archives).

Evaluating Internet Resources

Internet resources should be evaluated to determine their credibility and relevance to your topic before selecting them for a research assignment. Use the criteria below to help you evaluate these resources.

Internet address (URL) domain extensions can be used to help determine authority and objectivity. A more complete list of two- and three- letter URL extensions is also available.

.gov - Government. The intent of the site is to present official information collected by or about the workings of a government.

.edu - Educational institution. The intent of the site is to educate as well as present information collected by or about the educational institution.

.com - Commercial. The intent of the site is to sell goods or services, as well as provide information about the company.

.org - Organization, usually non-profit. The intent of the site is to present information collected by or about the organization. Sometimes, the intent of the site is to promote a particular point of view.

.net - Network, usually personal Web pages. The intent of the site is as varied as the individual(s) responsible for the content.

Who Created the Information?

What are the qualifications of the author or organization responsible for the content of the resource?

What are the author's education and/or experience?

Is it a reputable Web site? Is there an "about us" link on the Web page that provides information about the organization?

Is it a commercial, governmental, educational or personal Web site? Often the URL domain's extension (.com, .edu, etc.) gives you a clue about the site.

Look for the author's biography or information about the responsible organization within the Web page itself or use the sources below to find out more about people and organizations:

Information on People:

Information on Organizations:

Content & Coverage

  • Who is the audience for the Web site (scholarly or general)?
  • Is the information primary or secondary in nature?
  • Does it provide general background information or in-depth information on a specific topic? Which do you need?
  • Does the page link to other reputable websites/organizations? Is there a bibliography or list of cited references and how extensive is it?

Timeliness

  • Is there a date anywhere on the Web page, such as date created, last update, etc.?
  • How up-to-date are citations, if any? Are the links broken?
  • How current does the information need to be for your topic or assignment?

Accuracy

  • Is it a commercial, governmental, educational, personal Web site or blog?
  • Is it a community site in which any individual can make changes to such as Wikipedia?
  • Can you find the same information in another source?

Objectivity

  • Determine whether the information is fact, opinion or propaganda.
  • Are there links or references to show the source of the facts or quotes?
  • Does the Web site have a particular bias?
  • Are opinions or propaganda easy to recognize?
  • Do the words and phrases play to your emotions or bias the content?
  • Are there advertisements that suggest the information might be biased toward selling a product rather than providing objective information?
  • Can you determine from the Web site's address (URL) a particular bias? Often the URL domain's extension (.com, .edu, etc.) gives you a clue about the site.