Being able to identify inaccuracies and legitimate information on websites is absolutely essential to effective internet research. There are an overwhelming of misleading and ‘rogue’ sites that are put up each day. The webmasters of these sites could be deliberately misleading their site visitors and there are some who are merely misinformed about the topics they discuss with confidence that is alluring to the common web surfer.
The following paper will discuss how to distinguish the factually accurate sites from the misinformation that is far too prevalent on the internet today. At first glance, a legitimate site should be professional-looking. While this seems like common sense, there are many features that will distinguish a professional and factually accurate site from a illegitimate site. Broken links, error messages, and placeholders for images are a dead giveaway that the site should not be used as a scholarly reference (AssociatedContent. com, 2007).
An overwhelming number of pop ups or advertisements is also a telltale sign of rogue sites; frequent advertising at the expense of the smooth transitions and visual appeal of the webpage implies the owner of the site is more interested in money than the web content (AssociatedContent. com, 2007). Additionally, the bottom of the main page should have ‘safe affiliation’ payment methods. There are sometimes rewards for excellence that can lend credence to the legitimacy of the site; the user should click on these small icons to make sure the links are legitimate and go to an established site.
While browsing, the user should look for business information such as addresses, telephone numbers, customer service communication. Grammatical correctness and easy readability are also an indicator of legitimacy (AssociatedContent. com, 2007). SCENARIO AND RECOMMENDATIONS Middle-school student X becomes worried as he hears his teacher is undergoing an MIS. Gathering further information, he learns the specific name of the procedure and writes it down, preparing to do some research to see what the procedure entails.
By initiating a Google search with the search criteria being “Laparoscopic Surgery”, many results gave multiple definitions for this surgery. If Student X has forgotten the spelling, the helpful suggestion list produced upon typing the first four letters of the procedure produces ‘laparoscopy’ as the first suggestion. Student X is relieved and clicks on the familiar search suggestion. He skips the first result for Wikipedia. com because of the uncertainty of the validity of the information on the wiki site.
Wiki sites are never reliable for truthful,accurate research data; the user-generated content is changed at any random time, causing the source to vary. Often, mistakes are not caught – especially on the more advanced, technical articles, and the content can be changed maliciously or unknowingly to false information, utterly misleading the researcher. Student X looks for the first familiar, reliable site on the Google list of search results. Four sites down, Student X recognizes the familiar “WebMD” site he has seen advertised on television.
He remembers the proclamation of all information being reviewed by an medical doctors; the reputable site is sure to provide accurate information. Clicking on the site, Student X is brought to the Digestive Disorders Health Center with the article entitled “Laparoscopy” heading the article (WebMD. com, 2008). The first sentence provides an concise and simple definition that immediately allays Student X’s fear about the surgery being dangerous. The definition states “Laparoscopy is a surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube put though a cut (incision) in the belly to look at the abdominal organs or the female organs.
” Skipping the multitude of medical terms he doesn’t understand such as endometriosis and tubal ligation, he looks for information about the risks involved with this surgery. He is relieved to find that laparoscopy is a minor surgery, that MIS stands for “Minimally-Invasive Surgery”. References: “How to Tell is a Website is Legitimate”. (2007). Retrieved on May 26, 2010 from associatedcontent. com: http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/363241/how_to_tell_if_a_website_is_legitimate. html? cat=15 WebMD. com Google. com Search Engine Wikipedia. com
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