Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. -- Lorraine Hansberry

T is for Thinking: the ICYouSee Guide To Critical Thinking

Consider the source.

It is important to find out who created a Web page -- not just names, but something about the authors that might indicate they are "good sources." Often there are no authors listed, so instead you will need to determine who is responsible for the site: a commercial enterprise, a small business, a government body, an academic institution, a professional association, an advocacy group, or just an individual maintaining a blog under a disguised name.

It is easy to think that an author wouldn’t be writing unless he or she was some kind of expert on the topic, but that is not always true.

Consider this report on the Bay of Pigs.
Although the report is found on a university website, the page cites only source, and the link is dead. The cited study was done by Jared Weiner. I happen to know this "expert" because during a class I taught many years ago, he told me he posted his Bay of Pigs report online when he was in the EIGHTH GRADE.
Sometimes author information is easily found, but usually you will have to dig around. If you cannot find anything on the page itself, you can often find more by truncating the URL. For example, truncating this webpage's URL to will provide a little bit of information, but it won't make clear what actually is. Clues there, however, can help you track down the information that author is a librarian at Ithaca College Library.

Questions to think about:

  • Do you think the authors have authority or expertise?
  • Is it clear who is responsible for the site?
  • Is this a commercial, governmental, personal, advocacy, or academic Web site?

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ICYouSee T is for Thinking
John R. Henderson
Last modified: November 18, 2015