What Makes a Source OK to Use?

I found myself in the middle of a debate the other day arguing about how do we really know a source is good to use for a paper.  So that inspired me to evaluate American Wind Energy Association’s website.  I believe step one is to evaluate what you are looking at.  The website should contain credible, original content, cited sources, look professional, easy to navigate and updated information.  American Wind Energy Association is a great example of a wonderful website, but researchers should search with caution while using AWEA as a source for a college paper.

AWEA’s website looks professional and is very easy to navigate.  There are no cartoon drawings or any immature graphic designs on the website.  The font is clean and easy to read.   Around the  font, soft green and blue colors are aesthetically pleasing.  Simple web pages are often easy to use.  On the homepage, there are a few pictures and a lot of information from the news room and calendar.  When I look at the website, I feel it is approachable and comfortable to use.  There are no overwhelming pages with too much information.

AWEA is well organized and all of the information provided can be located under tabs on the top of the page.  Some examples of tabs are Read the News, Learn About Wind Power and Go to Events.  Each tab is a directory, which will help users find what they are looking for.  The tabs drop down and have more options to choose from like AWEA’s mission, Education and Wind Energy in the News.  A simple click of the mouse will lead you to an abundance of information on wind energy.

The website is completely logical.  When I go to the site from the homepage, I know where to look to answer my question.  It is obvious that if a person wanted to find out what AWEA does, he or she would go to the Learn About Wind Power tab.  If you wanted to learn more about wind energy regulation, select Explore the Issues.  Searching for information is simple.  The site even provides a search toolbar on the top right for anyone who cannot find what he or she is looking for.

The website targets people who want to simply educate themselves on wind energy.  Wind Energy is 100 percent green and is turning into a great way to produce power for communities.  I personally subscribed to AWEA’s weekly newsletter to help educate myself on wind energy.  For a college level paper I believe a student could get a great understanding of wind energy from this site.  For educational purposes, AWEA’s website is ideal, but for a reliable source on a college paper, the website should be used with caution.

AWEA updates their website with the newest information all the time.  Their copyright is listed from 1996 – 2010.  Unfortunately, the newest information is just media and news, not information on wind energy.  AWEA constantly posts new updates on their progress with expanding wind energy, but I have not seen any new information under the Learn About Wind Energy tab.  The main purpose of the site is to show how good wind energy is.  There is a good amount of educational information, but overall the site is to attract and sell the idea of this renewable source.  A lot of the information is located through links.

AWEA believes wind energy is the future and they have a strong bias towards their renewable energy.  AWEA only provides facts to prove that wind energy is incredible, proving they are biased.  For a college paper that is pro wind energy, this website will help a lot, but the student must understand that AWEA will not say anything negative about wind energy.  Using a quote from AWEA will help provide support for persuading people to become fans of wind energy.

After evaluating the American Wind Energy Association’s website, I would say overall, the site might be suitable to use for a college paper.  The website contained a lot of original content, looked professional, and was easy to navigate.  Even though most of their newest information was about the media, they had plenty of facts about wind energy to use in a paper.  The only danger in using AWEA’s website as a source, is that we do not know where they got their information from.  I truly believe AWEA has an excellent website that will help students learn about wind energy, but I would definitely use with caution while utilizing it as a source for a college paper.

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