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SPAN 231 - Conversation and Composition, Spring 2014: Finding Contextual Info - Web Resources

Good Web Resources

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar Search

Things to Keep in Mind When Using Websites for Research

Remeber the CRAAP guidelines. 

  • Currency - When was the material published? On websites look for copyright information or the last date it was updated.
  • Relevance - How does the source pertain to your research? Who is the intended audience? Make sure that your source is directly related to your topic or thesis and that the writing is appropriate for your project.
  • Authority - Who wrote or published the work? Does the work or website provide the authors credentials? If you're working online, take a look at the end of the url, it can reveal a lot about the organization (e.g. .gov = government, .edu = school/university). If you cannot tell who published or created a work that is a red flag that it is not a good source.
  • Accuracy - Where or how did they gather these facts? Can you verify their information in another source? Do they provide a bibliography or citations for any claims that they have made? If you're looking a journal article, is it a peer-reviewed article? Take a look at the general layout of the work - if there are a lot of typos or mistakes that is a sign that it is not accurate.
  • Purpose - Why have they written about this topic? Are the ideas based on legitimate research or is it an expression of an opinion or a rant/exaggeration/parody? Are they trying to inform, entertain, or advertise to you?

U.S. Government Resources


Published by the State Department, Background Notes include facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations of independent states, some dependencies, and areas of special sovereignty.


Published by the Library of Congress, the Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.  We have some of these in print in the government documents collection on the 1st floor of the library, but many additional volumes are available electronically.

For example, to search for country studies in Wyndham Robertson Library, search:  "country study" AND Mexico (or other country of interest).

Note the date of publication in the country study.  The specific information on the current heads of state may be outdated, but the historical, contextual information can still be relevant.