Do’s and Don’ts for Researching Agricultural Topics

The internet is a great way to research agricultural topics in today’s world, but the internet can also be a dangerous source of credible information if you are not careful. With so many controversial issues revolving around agriculture, there is bound to be some false information floating around on the web. I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to follow that can be valuable when searching for credible sources on the internet.

Do look at the type of source. Are you on a personal page or a site? Often times, personal pages can be dangerous because they state more opinions than they do facts. Personal pages are not monitored as closely as actual sites because there are so many of them, and anyone can make one. If you are on a personal page, check out the author. Are they respected or well-known? Do they include sources with their information?

Don’t skip over the domain (.com, .org, .edu, .gov). Governmental websites (.gov) and websites from credible institutions (.edu) are more reliable than sources from non-profit organizations (.org — **Cough cough PETA). Domains are important because they give you a clue to what type of site you are gathering information from.

Do look for dates. When was the information published? Has the website been updated recently? Is a date even included on the information? Determining a date is essential when searching for up to date facts and statistics.

Don’t just look at one article on the website. Do at least a quick overview of the entire website before verifying the site as credible. Does the site publish various content? Is there a significant amount of information available? The more credible information made available, the more reliable the site.

Do look at how the information is being presented. Is the author biased? Is the author trying to prove a point, or offer both sides of an issue? When looking for credible sources you want sources that present facts and information in a straightforward manner. Avoid sources with an intent to persuade or alter the reader’s opinions.

Don’t overlook the sources. You want to know where the information came from, who did the research, and how they got ahold of it. Sources are important and should be included in every credible source. If sources are included, how credible are the sources?

Do your research. Agriculture is an industry that includes many controversial topics. A primary cause of this controversy is because information is being misinterpreted and falsely spread to the public.

Be a responsible character. Get the facts before the lies.


Sources:

“Web Page Evaluation Checklist.” Teaching Library, UC Berkeley. Retrieved from: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/evaluation_checklist_2008_spring.pdf.

“Credible versus Non Credible Sources.” University Writing Center at Appalachian State University. Retrieved from: http://writingcenter.appstate.edu/sites/writingcenter.appstate.edu/files/Credible%20v%20Non-Credible%20Sources13.pdf.

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