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Sociology Research Guide: Open Web Sources and Statistics

Using Web Sources for Research

Photo of caution tape

Anyone can create and post open web content, including but not limited to:

  • you and your friends
  • a researcher
  • a 10-year-old child

Don't always believe what you read!

Many websites are not edited or fact-checked. Be sure to always evaluate any source you find on the open web!

Evaluate Websites for Credibility!

Author: Can you determine who created the site? Is this person reputable? Is there contact information for you to reach the author?

Accuracy: Does the website include references or sources? Can information be verified? Is the site edited as far as grammar and spelling?

Audience: Who is the website created for? Is it appropriate for a college-level paper or project?

Purpose: Why does the website exist? What does the author get out of creating it? Is the website trying to persuade you to buy something or adopt someone else's beliefs?

Date: When was the site created? Updated? Is it recent enough for your paper or project?

Google Search Tips

Use keywords, not questions:

  • Gentrification AND Los Angeles

Limit to a domain:

  • race and academic achievement
  • school to prison pipeline
  • DREAM Act

Limit to a website:

  • gentrification AND Los Angeles

Try an Advanced Google Search!

Google Web Search

Google Scholar

Use your keywords to find scholarly content through Google Scholar! 

Google Scholar Search