Research Paper: Credibility What Are the Signs

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[. . .] The PBS website is very thorough and is appropriate for this assignment. Next on the Google page is Wikipedia (unacceptable for academic purposes except for the links to additional resources). But the fifth offering on Google, the History site is appropriate and so PBS and the History site will be used. The next five include images from the Underground Railroad era, the National Parks Service, University of Buffalo, something called "freedom center" and Gutenberg.

Using the checklists mentioned in the previous two pages, the PBS (KCET) site does not list an author, but this is not unusual for PBS and clearly there is assumed credibility in Public Broadcasting materials. The writing in the opening paragraph provides a strong clue as to the quality of the material. The paragraph tells how many slaves were stealthily moved northward (an estimated 100,000 runaway slaves were helped by the Underground Railroad between 1810 and 1850). That paragraph notes that no one was really in charge, but rather, "…it consisted of many individuals -- many whites but predominately black -- who knew only the local efforts to aid fugitives" but not the overall organization functions.

The PBS site is balanced, unbiased, and it offers pertinent (and sometimes very interesting, previously unknown) facts in every paragraph. George Washington actually complained (in 1786) that some of his slaves ran away and were helped "…by a society of Quakers, formed for such purposes" (PBS). After reading the first three paragraphs -- and based on this writer's previous knowledge of the Underground Railroad -- one can say with assurance that the material is useful and not doubtful, is not biased, has valid sources, and is easy to understand. The PBS site has four parts, each reflecting a different time period. There is a "Resource Bank" with links to all the sources used, as well.

The History website also provides links to sources and do additional information. The narrative on the first two pages of the site is general information, well written and succinct. Authors mentioned include Eric Foner (a well-respected historian) and John Garraty, also known as a competent historian. And like PBS, the History site has built-in credibility. Under "More to Explore" the History site lists the names of important characters in the Underground Railroad (the most important three are listed first: Harriet Tubman; Frederick Douglass; and Sojourner Truth). Hitting any of those links opens page that fully describes the persons that are closely linked to the Underground Railroad. The site also offers "Themes" (under which several aspects of anti-slavery movements are presented; "Abolitionist Movement"; "Emancipation"; and more). All links on the History site work almost instantly with high speed WiFi.

The site is clean, uncluttered, easy to access, the links work quickly and perfectly, and there is a link called "Fact Check" -- if any of the materials seem inaccurate a user can contact the editors through an email. While the PBS site estimated that 100,000 slaves were ferried northward away from their bondage, the History site states that "…Estimates of the number of slaves vary widely, but only a miniscule fraction of those held in bondage ever escaped," which is factual and pertinent notwithstanding there were no numbers mentioned. The History site does mention something PBS did not mention: there were $40,000 offered by slaveholders for the capture of Harriet Tubman.

In conclusion, both websites used in this paper are credible, user-friendly, and the information is well written and logically organized. The importance of using websites that are valid and thorough cannot be overstated, as it is vitally important that students and other researchers use data and narrative information that can be counted on to be accurate.

Works Cited

Avon Public Schools. (2000). Here are eight ways of checking information on web sites.

Retrieved February 28, 2013, from

History. (2008). Underground Railroad. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from

KCET. (2004). The Underground Railroad. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from

University of California @ Berkeley. (2007). Web Page Evaluation Checklist. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from

University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign. (2008). Evaluating Websites. Retrieved February

28, 2013, from

University of Maryland. (2012). Evaluating Web Sites: A Checklist. Retrieved February 28,

2013, from

University of Southern Maine. (2006). Checklist… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Research Paper:

APA Format

Credibility What Are the Signs.  (2013, February 28).  Retrieved May 21, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Credibility What Are the Signs."  28 February 2013.  Web.  21 May 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Credibility What Are the Signs."  February 28, 2013.  Accessed May 21, 2019.