Strategies for Locating Authority Information

One or more of the following methods may help you locate information about the authority and/or sponsor of a web page.

Look for a postal address or telephone number from which you can request information about the author or sponsor.

Check the header, footer, watermark or wallpaper for information that might provide clues. The web page may be part of an official academic or scholarly site. It may not.

Try contacting the webmaster of the site. Ask questions.

If the site is part of a larger site, you may be able to use the internal search engine or directory to search for the author's name.

Using one of the internet search engines, like Google, Yahoo or AltaVista, search for the author's name as a phrase (Some search engines use quotation marks. For example: "Andrew Weil")

Notice the URL, the site's address, to determine the type of source that produced the site: .edu is for education sites, .org is technically for nonprofit organizations, .gov is a government site, .net identifies a network and .com is for commercial sites.

.edu sites will probably provide research quality resources and information as well as dependable links, but take note - they may also include individual home pages of people affiliated with the institution. Individual homepages are usually not officially endorsed by the institution.

The tilde ~ in a website's address is sometimes an indication of a personal page. In any case, it shows the site is probably part of a larger entity.

Another possible clue of a personal page would be an address that includes "members.aol.com," "tripod," or "geocites."

An association can be verified by looking at The Scholarly Societies Project (http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/society/overview.html). The site includes societies with scholarly, academic or research goals from all academic subjects. Is the sponsor of the web page you're evaluating represented?

If you're still not sure after trying so many strategies, you should strongly consider finding another source.

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