The resources available through the Cornell Library will help you to find reputable information for your projects.
The Cornell Library website's search function is a great way to find publications and read articles for free.
If you are using Google or Google Scholar to find articles and hit paywalls, download the Passkey. This browser add-on will enable you to gain access to many journals through Cornell's subscription without going back to our website.
Evaluating Online Resources
When you are selecting sources to cite for your projects, take a minute to evaluate whether this is the best resource. This is true of any source but doubly true with evaluating sources found through Google or other search engines. Library resources come pre-vetted because the library is selective about what we purchase for Cornell's collection. However, not every article from library databases would be appropriate for your project.
In particular, it may be hard to evaluate the validity of an online source or website. Here are some criteria to consider when evaluating your sources.
- Technical work/research often needs current, up-to-date information. If you are considering the use of a website, check it for a copyright date or last updated date, often at the very bottom of the page. You might also be able to determine the date by looking at the source code.
- Try the links on the page. If many of them are broken, it's likely that the page has not been updated or maintained.
- Check that the information is relevant to your question. Choose your search terms carefully to retrieve the most relevant results.
- Who is the intended audience of the website? For example, is the information meant for consumers (not experts), students, professionals, or other groups?
- A good website will provide clear information as to the author/owner of the site and the source of the information. You should be able to find an About link somewhere on the page.
- Legitimate sites often provide contact information.
- The web address can be a clue to authorship: .edu indicates an educational institution and .gov indicates a government website.
- The accuracy of the information can be difficult to determine, but some clues may be a warning sign. Trust your judgement and beware of sites that make health claims that you know to be false or that are debunked by another reliable, trustworthy source.
- Beware of biased or opinionated language.
- Steer clear of websites that are poorly written, full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, or contain exclamation points.
- The purpose of a reliable technical information website should be to teach or inform. The information should be reliable and verifiable.
- Beware of sites whose primary purpose seems to be selling products, entertaining, or aim to simply entertain. Also steer clear of sites that are strongly biased or opinionated.