Finding & Selecting Websites

Listed below are suggestions on how you can locate and select web sites for your project.

The Internet has tons of information but it is unpredictable. Because anyone can publish on the Internet, be selective when choosing websites.

Can I use only Web sites for my project?

That depends on what you want to do with your project. Because there are so many different groups that publish on the Internet, and the type of material they publish varies, you will want to have some idea of how your project will work before really digging in.

Here is an example why: click on the words to run a search on Google for the words "black holes" or "performance art." When this page was created, "black holes" returned 998,000 hits and "performance art" returned an amazing 2,100,000 hits. Needless to say, there is a lot of information on the Web!

How do you know when to search for information on the Web? Here are some basic questions you might want to ask when deciding:

As for all projects, you will have the best success by periodically taking stock of where you are and planning your next step before you begin searching.

Back to topics

What types of information does the Web have that the library doesn't?

It is difficult to generalize about the Web, but it is particularly strong for:

Back to topics

What information can I find more easily in the library?

The Sarah Lawrence College Libraries have over 250,000 items in their collections. We don't have everything, but start with our resources for these kinds of information:

Back to topics

How do I know if a Web site provides good information?

At the library, we select the resources for our collection based on published reviews, recommendations, faculty requests, and our own criteria. Each item comes with some information about the author, publisher, dates of publication and other pieces of information that let you know who is responsible for the content. This means that most of the information you find in our collection is reliable; if not, you can at least tell who created it.

On the Web, there is often no indication who has published a Web site, what their qualifications are, or who you could contact to learn more about the author. It can also be difficult to determine when the information was published. There is no way to be certain about the quality of information contained in a Web site, but here are several criteria to consider:

Back to topics

How do I find a Web site that will be useful for my topic?

Searching the Web is different from our catalog and databases in one major way: there is no way to search specific fields. This means that a search engine does not distinguish between author, title, subject, or publisher.

When you search the Internet, you will get every Web site that has your search terms on it, regardless if the site is about the subject or not. For example, searching for "catapult" on Google returns sites from companies named catapult, Web sites using the verb "to catapult," and other sites not about catapults. To find information about your topic, try these strategies:

Back to topics

How do I cite a Web site in my bibliography?

Each field of study has its own style. MLA, APA, and Chicago (or Turabian) are the three main styles for papers. See your professor if you're not sure which type to use. For citing electronic resources, see:

Back to topics