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You can find almost any type of information on the free web via google searching, social media, or linking. As you’ve seen throughout this module, plenty of reference works, books, newspapers, magazines, and journals, are available on the free web. 

But there’s more...

Every website is its own publication. Website publishers could be the government, non-profit organizations, news agencies, retail companies, political candidates, social media conglomerates, etc. The list is endless.

When searching online, it’s important to know what type of information you’re looking for before you dive in. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides an overview of the work and career progression of industrial engineers. Although this is not an encyclopedia article, it provides reference information. This overview might be useful for a career-choice assignment, but it would be insufficient if you wanted to know the factors influencing female undergraduate engineering students’ career choices. This information, which requires original research to uncover, would more likely be found in a journal article. 

In addition to understanding the type of information you've found, it’s important to evaluate it's quality. Website evaluation is covered in Module 4: Evaluating sources.

Research Question

Research question:

How does workplace automation affect job opportunities in the United States?


Source type: website

Person using a laptop and smartphone at the same time.Information provided:

  • Any information on almost any topic. 
  • Easy to access, but often  difficult to trust.
  • Anyone can create a website, so they require extra evaluation before trusting them.  
  • All other sources covered in this module can be found online, but for our purposes we are not considering them websites.
  • Although they can be frequently updated, they are not published with entirely new content on a regular schedule. 

Example publications:

Example that would help answer your question:

The market research association Insights Association provides an overview of survey results asking 5,000 American workers about their visions for automation in their own professions.

How to use a webpage:

As evidence of workers’ anxiety over automation. This evidence could contribute to your argument that employers should provide technical training to prepare workers for automation and improve morale.


Image credit: Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash.