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Websites should be used sparingly in scholarly research. Students must act as investigators when evaluating a website and ask themselves:
Who? Is the author of the site a person or an organization? How do I know I can trust them? What qualifies them to share/report on this information?
What?Does the website make any claims that need backed up with evidence? Am I finding the same claims in other places? Does the information have any bias?
When?When was this page last updated? Is this time-sensitive information?
Where?What type of URL is it? Is it at a .org, .edu, or .gov? (Return to Who? if uncertain about whether you should trust a URL)
Why? What is the purpose of this website? To inform? To persuade? (Return to What? if uncertain about the information)
Use good sense when looking at a website. If it looks like some random person slapped together a Word document and put it online at a .net, chances are it's not worth using! Look for grammatical errors, pop-ups, and other general design for indicators of whether it is a professional/information website.
Practice Evaluating Websites
Click on each of the three links below to view ".edu" websites that are uniquely different. Ask yourself these questions:
What type of information or website is this?
Can you identify an author? On whose authority is this information based? Are there any citations?
How would you cite this page?
In what other types of resources might you find this same information?
American Rhetoric maintains a database of and index to 5000+ full text, audio and video versions of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, and other recorded media events.
This online rhetoric, provided by Dr. Gideon Burton of Brigham Young University, is a guide to the terms of classical and renaissance rhetoric. Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest (the big picture) of rhetoric because of the trees (the hundreds of Greek and Latin terms naming figures of speech, etc.) within rhetoric. This site is intended to help beginners, as well as experts, make sense of rhetoric.
Presidential Rhetoric provides news, information, and resources for those interested in the study of the presidency from a rhetorical perspective. Focusing largely on contemporary presidential issues, Presidential Rhetoric assists researchers in locating recent information relating to American presidents, political communication, and rhetorical criticism.
The G. Robert Vincent Voice Library is a collection of over 40,000 hours of spoken word recordings, dating back to 1888. The collection includes the voices of over 100,000 persons from all walks of life. Political and cultural leaders and minor players in the human drama are captured and cataloged to serve the research needs of a local, national and international user base.
The A&B Public Speaking Archive includes audio and text files of speeches; a section on presidential speechmaking, which examines how various U.S. Presidents dealt with rhetorical situations; recordings of Supreme Court oral arguments; and news program transcripts.
Gifts of Speech is a non-profit project, sponsored by Sweet Briar College, dedicated to preserving and creating access to speeches by inspirational, influential and contemporary, women from around the world.
Say it Plain: Spanning the 20th century, this collection is a vivid account of how African Americans sounded the charge against racial injustice, exhorting the country to live up to its democratic principles. Say it Loud: This anthology illuminates the ideas and debates pulsing through the black freedom struggle from the 1960s to the present. These arguments are suffused with basic questions about what it means to be black in America.
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. Toastmaster's free resources including the Toastmaster magazine, podcast, Q&A as well as communication tips on video are valuable, free sources of information to help you hone your communication and leadership skills.