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Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution: Identifying research material on the web

Introduction

You could find sources on the web (outside of the databases) that you think may be significantly research orientated to be included in your research paper. Here are some web pages and blogs that you may run across. Examine them and determine if they are credible enough that you would use them in your paper.    (HINT: Use the set of criteria below to help):

How plants could impact global warming.

Climate change could stress plants out

Global warming helps crops grow

When in doubt to use any of these sites, ask your instructor!

Criteria for evaluating web sites

  1. Authority: Who created the site?
    • What is their authority?
      1. Do they have expertise or experience with the topic?
      2. What are their credentials, institutional affiliation?
    • Is organizational information provided?
    • Does the URL suggest a reputable affiliation with regard to the topic--personal or official site; type of Internet domain (i.e., .edu: educational institution; .org: non-profit organization; .com: commercial enterprise; .net: Internet Service Provider; .gov: governmental body; .mil: military body)?
  2. Objectivity: Is the purpose and intention of the site clear, including any bias or particular viewpoint?
    • Are the purpose and scope stated?
    • Who is the intended audience?
    • Is the information clearly presented as being factual or opinion, primary or secondary in origin?
    • What criteria are used for inclusion of the information?
    • Is any sponsorship or source of funding fully disclosed?
  3. Accuracy: Is the information presented accurate?
    • Are the facts documented or well-researched?
    • Are the facts similar to those reported in related print or other online sources?
    • Are the Web resources for which links are provided quality sites?
  4. Currency: Is the information current?
    • Is the content current?
    • Are the pages date-stamped with last update?
  5. Usability: Is the site well-designed and stable?
    • Is the site organization logical and easy to maneuver?
    • Is the content written at a level that is readable by the intended audience?
    • Has attention been paid to presenting the information as error-free (e.g., spelling, punctuation) as possible?
    • Is there a readily identifiable link back to the institutional or organizational home page?
    • Is the site reliably accessible?

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