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LIBRARY GUIDE TO ESL 0779 - Academic Writing

Assessing Online Resources
  • Why did the author write this?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Are they trying to teach?
  • Are they trying to persuade?
  • Are they trying to sell something?
  • When was it written?
  • Have things changed since the it was written?
  • Is the info updated regularly?
  • Is this information correct?
  • Can you verify the info?
  • Has someone else reviewed the info?
  • Are there errors in spelling or grammar?
  • Who is the author?
  • Are they an expert?
  • Are they a scholar?
  • Is there a link to more info about the author?
  • Is no author listed?
  • Why did they write the information?
  • Do they have a goal or objective that might make them biased?
  • Is this an opinion?
  • Is the author affiliated with an organization?
Websites are the basic unit of the web. Can include text, images, links, videos

Many types:
  • Personal sites - Includes information about a person or their interests/hobbies. Can list interests, skills. Example: An author’s website
  • Special interest sites - Run by organizations. Are focused on area of interest, like the environment, education, energy Example: an organization that promotes clean energy
  • Professional sites -  Can be run by organizations, companies, or individuals. Might include research, list of publications, work of the employees. Example: LinkedIn
  • News sites - often created by news organizations, can be run by individuals as citizen's reports. Example: BBC News
  • Commercial sites -  sell a product or service. Example: Amazon.com

Check the website extension
  • .gov - a government organization. Often has data, standards, reports from taskforces/committees.
  • .org - anyone can register, but traditionally advocacy group, non-profit organizations.
  • .edu - an educational institution. Can identify expert scholars, may have links to scholarly articles.
  • What type of website is this?
  • Who is the author?
  • Is there an "About" page? What does it tell you?
  • When was the website last updated?
  • Is the website owned by a person or an organization?
  • Does the website reference any other websites or information sources?
Citation Example

US Department of Education

Citation: U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education, www.ed.gov. Accessed 18 Oct. 2016.
Page on Website
Wikipedia pages are an example of a particular page on a website that you use for specific information. Cite a page, rather than a whole website, when:
  • the page alone covers your specific topic
  • when the page has its own title
  • when the page has an identifiable author, distinct from the rest of the site
Watch out
 Watch out for fake news sites like The Onion. These are not good sources of information.

Citation example
Is Wikipedia the best source of information?
Try looking at the Wikipedia page citations to see if there is a better information source


"Education in the United States." Wikipedia, 18 Oct. 2016, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_United_States.
Infographics have become a popular way to share data and facts. Questions to ask:
  • Who created the image?
  • Why did they create the image?
  • When did they create the image? Could the data/facts have changed since then?
  • Where did they get the data to support the information in the image?
Citation Example

See the whole infographic on Boundless Blog

Mushlya. The History of Education [Infographic]. Boundless Blog, 2013, blog.boundless.com/2013/02/the-history-of-education-infographic. Accessed 18 Oct. 2016.
Article on Web
How are articles in a web magazine / newspaper different from a website? They will typically have new posts made available, often daily. The new posts will cover different topics and often have different authors. Those authors may be journalists, freelance writers, or other contributors selected by the magazine / newspaper.

Questions to ask:
  • Is the author credited by name?
  • Who is the author?
  • Are they a frequent contributor to the magazine/newspaper?
  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Is the magazine/newspaper run by an organization?
  • What is the goal of the article? To teach? To share data? To persuade?
  • Does the publication have a bias?
  • Does the article link to other sources of information to back up its claims?
  • Does the article have any data in it? Where does that data come from?
Citation Example

Education News

Lawrence, Julia. "Number of Homeschoolers Growing Nationwide." Education News, 21 May 2012, www.educationnews.org/parenting/number-of-homeschoolers-growing-nationwide. Accessed 18 Oct. 2016.
Listserv / Discussion List / Blog
Blogs can be written by anyone, so it is important to think about who the author is and what reason they have for writing their blog. Some blogs may be written by practicioners in the field, like teachers who are eager to share their experience with others.

Questions to ask:
  • Who is the author?
  • Can you verify who the author is?
  • Is the blog sponsored by a company?
  • What is the purpose of the blog?
  • Is the blog's focus relevant to your topic?
  • Is there an "About" page? What does it tell you about the author/purpose?
Citation Example

The Teach Palette Blog

McGhee, Theresa. "Art Room Visuals Made Simple." The Teaching Palette, theteachingpalette.com/art-room-visuals-made-simple. Accessed 18 Oct. 2016.
Twitter can be useful for:
  • breaking news coverage from verified news sources
  • eyewitness reports
  • confirming that a celebrity or well-known public figure made a claim online (example: fact checkers during the 2016 US Presidential election)

Questions to ask:
  • Who is the author of the Tweet?
  • Is the Twitter account verified?
  • What is the tone of the Tweet? Is it possible that the Tweet is a joke? Is it promotional?
  • When was the Tweet written?
  • Is there another source of information that says the same thing?
  • Does the Tweet point to data? Is there a link to the data?
Citation Example
@usedgov. "Knowledge & skills in #STEM are becoming increasingly necessary for students to succeed in our global economy. pic.twitter.com/bSEBZZcN5P." Twitter, 7 Oct. 2016, 5:45 a.m., twitter.com/usedgov/status/784373969138835458.
Experts and scholars sometimes create videos that offer valuable information, like the popular TedTalks series.

Questions to ask:
  • Who created the video?
  • What is the purpose of the video?
  • Is there a written article that the video is based on, or that explains the topic in more depth?
  • When was the video created?
Citation Example

"The benefits of a bilingual brain - Mia Nacamulli." Youtube, uploaded by TED-Ed, 23 Jun. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMmOLN5zBLY.


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