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American Short Stories Research: Web Sites

A guide to finding literary criticism, biographical and background information, other resources and citation help.

More than a million sites???

If I Google "Louise Erdrich," I get more than a million results! Only a very small number of these are worth using in a college-level paper. The very first result listed is Wikipedia, which NEVER should be used for college research! Do you know why not? Because anyone can add whatever they want to Wikipedia articles, whether correct or not! 

So how do you find reliable websites? This page will suggest some ways, and tell you how to evaluate (judge) the sites you find to decide if they provide authoritative, reliable information.

You might try these sites as a starting point, although you can probably find all the reliable sources you need from our books and databases. Some of the cites listed below are "mega-cites," collections of links to other web resources. Remember, when you use the web, always EVALUATE what you find!

  Evaluation, or Should I Use This Website?

Remember, anyone can create a website and write anything they choose in it.

Evaluating the site and deciding whether to believe and use it is YOUR job!

Some Questions to Ask Yourself

Ø  WHO?  Who is the person or organization who created the site? Are they experts? Why should you believe them? What information do they provide about themselves? Check for an “About Us” page.   

Ø  WHY? What is the purpose of the site? Is it trying to sell you something? Does it have a lot of advertising? Is it trying to sway your opinion? Does the site seem biased? Is its main purpose to provide information?

Ø  WHAT? Does the site contain useful information? Is the information at an appropriate level for college work? Does the information generally agree with other sources you’ve seen? Does the information make sense?

Ø  WHEN? Is there a date to show when the site was created? Does it get updated frequently? Does it have current information?

Ø  HOW? Does the site work well? Does it have links that don’t work? Does it have obvious errors?

Subject Guide

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Beth Seelick
This research guide was created by Professor Beth Seelick (1955-2019).
"A teacher affects eternity; she can never tell where her influence stops." ― Henry B. Adams

Advanced Googling

Searching the Web for other sources? You should be aware of the #1 Google Tip for Academics:  Click on "Advanced Search" when you Google and limit your search to .GOV, .EDU, or .ORG domains. For literary criticism, .EDU may be best.

But remember, you can't rely on this alone -- you must still use your judgment and evalute what you find! See "Evaluation, or, Should I Use This Website?" at the box on the left, and/or watch the video in the box titled "Still Not Sure?"


  Still Not Sure?

Still not sure if the information you found has come from a reliable website?  Try watching this video!

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