When developing your manuscript, it's tempting to easily access the plethora of information on the ubiquitous Internet in lieu of researching print sources. While we recognize the Internet can be a time-saving research tool, we also know it's easy to over-rely on it. And, the information found in online sources often proves to be biased, inaccurate, and out of date.
To provide your reader with the best research and references to online data, here are some key things to consider when using online sources.
Ask yourself these questions to determine whether your online source is trustworthy:
It's just plain difficult for a reader or student to type in a lengthy URL in order to access a page that is deep into a website. Frequently, a lengthy URL takes the reader/student to a page that has expired.
Thus, when citing URLs for footnotes, a bibliography, or an appendix, etc., please do the following:
Here is a path to information about writing activities on Dave's ESL Café:
More information on ESL writing activities is available on Dave's ESL Café, www.eslcafe.com, Stuff for Teachers, Idea Cookbook, Writing.
Readers should be able to readily access any online information you cite. Thus, do not direct the reader to websites that entail (1) a cost for connecting to the source, (2) a cost for obtaining the information, (3) special equipment to get into the site, and (4) a password.
Obviously, there are exceptions to all of these! For example, if you are recommending online journals and membership in professional organizations one can join by accessing an Internet site, a fee for access is likely to be involved. If this is the case, please inform the reader by simply adding appropriate language in your manuscript, such as "membership fee required for full access to site."
Even if the site you access contains no copyright symbol or copyright language, the material is still copyrighted and must be cited in your manuscript.
As with print material, "fair use" may apply to excerpting short passages of material from the site, but it does depend on the percentage of material you cite from the whole. Be overly cautious here.
We recommend a three-step check of the URLs you cite to ensure they are as accurate and as timely as possible by the time your book is published.
Quite simply, don't believe everything you read on the Internet! Use the same rigorous evaluation and decision-making process you would use when determining which print materials to use and recommend.