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After finding a website that seems useful and tracking down the author’s name, you may need additional research (perhaps using Google) to learn whether the author has any claim to credibility.But of course, countless reliable sources can be accessed on the web, and even unreliable sources have some uses in research writing. Popular Sources for more about unreliable sources.) These days, many students and scholars use Web sources extensively in research and teaching.It’s often useful to identify your source in the body of your paper (and not just in your citation or footnote); this identification is especially important when you use material from the Internet.
But websites change, and the address you used won’t always be active when your reader tries to view a source. See How to Copy and Paste but Not Plagiarize for advice about how to use electronic sources wisely.
For that reason, it’s important to include both the date you accessed the site and also a full account of the person, group, or organization that sponsors the site. Most of this guide focuses on helping you subordinate sources to your own ideas.
Even if you find the author’s name, Internet sources make it harder to tell what status that person has in his or her field.
Is the author an expert, a fan, or just a crackpot?
But if you can access the information through regular surfing, without passwords, it’s probably safe to use.
(3) Communications sent via email or accessed by membership in a specific group are generally considered private, and you should exercise care in quoting from them in your papers.
For one thing, print publishing is more expensive, so many print publishers are careful not to make mistakes or to cut corners, in case what they publish turns out to be unreliable—and therefore useless.
The seeming anonymity of the Internet also encourages some people to write things quickly, without checking to be sure of their facts or their conclusions.
To some degree, these categories distinguish more and less reliable sources of information.
But the distinctions are neither clear nor entirely stable.