Many research assignments ask students to find web sites on their topics. This exercise is designed to prepare you to search strategically.
In addition to what you have learned in earlier parts of this module, being an expert web searcher means you know what kind of information the web is best at giving you AND you are able to envision the kind of site that would have the type of information you need.
What kind of information is the web best at? To know what the web is good at giving you it helps to understand the information timeline:
The Information Timeline and Types of Sources (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
If you understand the information timeline, you begin to see that the web is good at providing current information, where books are not the best types of sources for that. And if you are looking for original research, scholarly articles are best at providing it, but they might not be found on the free web. On the freeweb, the best quality information often comes from sources that have a mandate to provide information to the public for free, sites such as education (.edu), government (.gov), and not-for-profit sites (.org). However, there are good reasons why one might be better than another for your purposes.
For example, if I am searching for current statistics on the homeless population in Seattle, lots of .org and .edu sites will come up. It might be fine to get my information from a .org site like that of the Committee to End Homelessness, but would you take it from a homeless shelter or Wikipedia? Stop for a second and think about who is most likely to publish this kind of information. I imagine that the City of Seattle would collect it, so I begin with Seattle.gov. The website for a homeless shelter in Seattle might be excellent for telling me about their services but it might not be the best source for city planning.
Another example, a student writing about a few particular pieces of Renaissance art thought that he would use his knowledge about Google Advanced Search to limit his search to .edu sites. That actually didn’t help him at all because Google kept giving him sites from college courses about Renaissance art. It was only when he thought about who has a mission to free information about art that he thought of museum web sites, and he got some great information on his topic. His response was something like “Duh. I should have thought of that before I just Googled it.”
So! This assignment asks you to do just that: think about the types of sites you thinkyou will find on your topic.
Turn in a short list of five ideas of web sites you think you’ll find, what type of information will be in the sites, and who might create or publish such sites. Tell me also the domain you think the site will be. Start by telling me your topic so I don’t have to go looking for it.
Please do this BEFORE you search the web.
Here are some examples of what I want to see:
Topic: Tuareg music
1. I expect to find a site with examples of Tuareg music. The site will have recordings of songs that I can listen to and some information about the songs. This type of site will probably be published by a public radio or television station. It will have a .com domain.
2. I expect to find sites with information about the countries where Tuareg people live. Even though I think I could find similar information in encyclopedias, web sites will have the most current geopolitical information on the countries. Governments publish sites like this, so they will have .gov domains (or domains of different countries, like .ml).
3. I expect to find at least one web site of a band famous for playing Tuareg music. It will have songs and/or lists of songs, biographical information about band members, tour dates (if the band tours), and more. The band will have created and published this site, so it will have a .com domain.
4. I expect to find a wikipedia site on Tuareg music because there’s a wikipedia site on almost every imaginable topic! Wikipedia sites are collaboratively created, and I bet lots of people who are fans of Tuareg music contributed to the content on that site. It has a .org domain.
5. Maybe there will also be a site from a .edu domain that discusses the history of Tuareg music. Maybe it’s a site that contains a syllabus for a World Music course. It will be published by a college or university, therefore will have a .edu domain.
Do your search. Choose one likely website and apply the
worksheet to evaluate it.
If you still like the web site you evaluated in Part 2 and want to use it in your research project, cite it below in correct MLA format. You may use another web site if you have found a better one.
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