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ARCH 101 - Architectural Design I - Mancuso: Web

Tips on Web Searching

  • Look for .edu sites, which are more likely to have academic resources, especially in conjunction with the word "archives" or "special collections"
    • Don't be shy! If you think a library or archives has a drawing you would want to see, but obviously can't access, send that library an email asking for a photo of the specific item. We are generally very happy to get these kinds of requests, and will fulfill them if we are able!
    • Seriously... ask! If you find a library page that says "we have ____ in special collections", send an email introducing yourself as an architecture student interested in seeing _____." Be specific about what you're looking for. 
  • If looking at a .org, make sure you can figure out what organization is publishing the website
  • Look for a homepage for a specific building, which is likely to have information about the building's history.
    • Again... don't be shy. They likely have at least one person who is knowledgable of the buildings design, and will probably be really excited to geek out over the building with you!

Can you Give this 5 Stars?

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There are five factors you can take into account when evaluating whether or not a source is appropriate. 

Author

Works written directly by scholars in a field of study are more reliable sources of information than those written by professional journalists. You should evaluate the level of expertise the person writing the article has. If an individual author is unavailable, you can think about the organization represented by the writer and whether or not they are to be trusted. 

Audience

When writing, the author has a specific audience in mind and will use words, phrases, and examples that are appropriate for that audience. It is important to recognize that as a college student you should be finding sources that are aimed toward a more scholarly audience than a general audience.

Purpose

There is always a reason for something to be published, so as a student you should be thinking about why something is being shared. Is the reason to persuade you to believe one side of an argument, or are they publishing the results of a study they conducted? 

Content

The amount of information (or lack of information) can tell a lot about a source's quality. You should search for sources that have references to other sources or with information that can be verified in other places as well. 

Context

Where, when, and how something is published can provide significant insight into a source's quality. Is it published in a peer-reviewed journal or a blog? Is this information too old to be of significance or is it from the same time that a significant event took place? 

Types of Top Level Domains and their Uses

As a starting point for evaluating websites, one might use the part of the web address immediately after the "dot" (for example, .com) to try to determine the reliability of the information. This part of the address (or URL) is called a "top-level domain" that someone asks to have when creating their website. The websites you most frequently visit have top-level domains, or TLDs, that likely fall into one of the following categories:

  • Country Codes - two letter representation for a country, individual countries determine who may receive a wesbite within their country code
  • Unrestricted - three or more letter, no requirements necessary for a website ending with these TLDs
  • Sponsored - three or more letters, a Sponsoring organization determines what requirements must be met and regulates whether they are met before allowing that website to exist.
This table provides some common top-level domains, the category they fall into, and their typical usage
TLD Category A site with this TLD can be registered by...
.com Unrestricted Anyone
.edu Sponsored An accredited US-based college or university approved by EDUCAUSE
.gov Sponsored federal, state, or local governments within the US approved by an independent government agency
.net Unrestricted Anyone
.org Unrestricted Anyone
.va Country Code officials of the Vatican
.za Country Code mainly South African citizens and businesses, but no policy excludes others from registering