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American Government Guide: Internet

Resources on American government.

Google Advanced Search

Google Advanced Search allows you to learn how to create a search.  The boxes enable you to do the following:

  • Use expressions (more than one word stringed together like American Idol)
  • Use similiar words with 'or' (example: sword or lance or spear)
  • Exclude words (try excluding Amazon so you don't get a list of books)
  • Retrieve excel or word documents as well as powerpoint presentatiions
  • Limit to certain dates
  • Limit to specific domains (such as .edu or .gov)

When you get results, take a look at how Google put your search into a single line. 

Evaluating Websites

This list is a guide for evaluating information found on the Internet.   It can also be applied to print sources.

 ACCURACY -- How reliable is the information?  Remember, almost anyone can publish on the web.  As opposed to scholarly print media, many web sites are not verified.  There are no web standards to ensure accuracy.

 AUTHORITY -- What are the author’s qualifications for writing on this subject?  How reputable is the publisher?  It is often difficult to determine the authorship and qualifications.  The publisher information is often absent.

 OBJECTIVITY -- Is there bias?  Are the goals or aims of the individual or group clearly stated?  Remember that many people consider the web as a place to state their opinions.

CURRENCY -- Is the content up-to-date?  Often dates are omitted or may mean the date that the information was originally written, the date it was placed on the web, or the date it was last revised.

 COVERAGE -- What topics are covered and to what depth?  Coverage may differ from print resources.

 AFFILIATION -- Is there a corporate entity (i.e. company, government, organization, university) that supports this site?  Is there a link to the homepage of the organization?  Is there contact information such as an email link and a snail mail address?  How might this affiliation affect objectivity?

 AUDIENCE -- For what audience is the material intended?  Is it for students in elementary school?  Middle school?  High school?  Is it for adults?  How difficult is the material?

 STABILITY OF INFORMATION -- It’s here today but will it be here tomorrow?  Can you cite it with some assurance that it will be found again?

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