The internet offers access to scholarly information, official information and statistics, newspapers and other news media, as well as e-books and journals. However, the internet is also home to unsubstantiated and unreliable information, as well as information that is incomplete or unstructured. Internet sources must be put under the same scrutiny as printed material. This means that you need to be able to identify what genre you are reading regardless of whether the text is printed or online.
# Some general tips:
- Find out whether the information is published by an individual or by an organisation/business.
- If neither is the case, does the URL indicate who is responsible for the website? Is there a logo or other clue that suggests who is responsible?
- When was the information published/most recently updated?
- Is the information hyperlinked or are there any other references to sources?
- Remember that Google and other search engines also find old websites with out-of-date information.
- Are you looking for academic information online? Try Google Scholar or Scirus.
- Remember that universities and university colleges subscribe to subscription-based services that provide access to academic e-journals and e-books.
# Web addresses (URLs)
URL – “Uniform Resource Locator” – is the term used to describe a website’s address on the internet. We find a website by entering its URL into the web browser’s address bar. The URL for Statistics Norway’s website is: https://www.ssb.no/ (opens new window). The URL for Statistic Norway’s page about children is: https://www.ssb.no/emner/02/01/20/barn/ (opens new window)
A URL consists of three components.
- Transfer protocol
In our example, the protocol is http. This is one of the most common protocols. Another common protocol is ftp.
- Domain names
In our example, the domain name comprises www.ssb.no (opens new window). The final part of the domain name denotes the type of domain. In our example, the final part is the top-level domain (TLD) .no. This is an example of a country-code TLD, in that “.no” stands for Norway.
By entering the exact URL in the address bar, you can proceed directly to a particular page. A path is used to indicate the lower-level pages in a website. To go directly to the Statistics Norway page with statistics about children, you should enter the correct path in the address bar: https://www.ssb.no/emner/02/01/20/barn/ (opens new window) Thus the path is: /emner/02/01/20/barn/
# Who is responsible for the website?
Websites created by private individuals often have long, complicated URLs. These will often be linked to the server’s URL by a tilde (~). Major organisations or public authorities often have top-level domains (TLDs) such as .no (Norway). Other examples are .se (Sweden) .dk (Denmark) and .de (Germany). The USA and the UK have several other top-level domains, e.g., .gov (the public sector) and .edu (the educational sector). Websites may have other TLDs than a country-code TLD. Examples include .org (organisation) or .com (commercial). Be aware that absolutely anyone can purchase a URL ending in the commercial TLD .com. The registry for Norwegian domain names is run by NORID (opens new window). This body maintains a list of all Norwegian domain names (opens new window)
# DOI - Digital Object Identifier
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a unique identification of an online document. DOIs is often used for journal articles, both for the electronic and printed version of the article. DOIs are permanent, and follow the document, also when the URL changes.