What's In This Guide?
DRAGNET stands for "Database Retrieval Access using Google's New Electronic Technology," a specialized search engine that was developed by librarians at New York Law School.
This feature enables you to "drag the net" through a group of free law-related Web resources. A DRAGNET search is like a Google search, except that it runs in only a select group of websites. The sites were chosen by our Library staff for their reliability and utility to legal researchers.
When conducting legal research on the Internet, it is important to evaluate the source of the information you intend to rely on.
Accuracy & Authority
When evaluating a site for accuracy, look at the source of the material:
- Who is the author or publisher?
- What are the author's credentials?
- Look at the general accuracy of the site, e.g. does it have obvious errors, is it professionally made, etc.
When evaluating the authority of a site:
- What is the domain name of the site? Is the website part of a governmental entity, educational, or non-profit organization?
- Look for "authenticating" indicia, e.g., the GPO Blue Eagle.
- Is there an "about us" or simliar section? If yes, what does it say?
- Check for any "disclaimer."
- Is the site neutral or does it take or support a particular position? For example, check out the Institute for Historical Review on Wikipedia!
Be sure to verify the information you intend to rely upon. Check the authorities cited or linked to and search for the same information in other sources.
Currency & Coverage
- When was the site last updated?
- How often is the site updated?
- What time period does the source cover? What jurisdiction?
Watch for link rot (when web pages go missing). For more information on link rot see, Breaking Down Link Rot: The Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archive's Examination of URL Stability, Sarah Rhodes, Published in LLRX on March 1, 2011.
If a web page goes missing, try referring to the following resources:
Wayback Machine (via the Internet Archive): The Internet Archive Wayback Machine puts the history of the World Wide Web at your fingertips. The Archive contains over 100 terabytes and 10 billion web pages archived from 1996 to the present.
Cyber Cemetery: The CyberCemetery is an archive of government websites that have ceased operation (usually websites of defunct government agencies and commissions that have issued a final report). It features a variety of topics indicative of the broad nature of government information.
Tutorials on Evaluating Webpages
Tools To Aid in Your Evaluation
Use common sense!
Evaluate the importance of the research you are conducting to help determine how careful you should be when assessing the accuracy of a site.
Discover more about the website you are viewing, including who owns the site, utilizing: Better Whois
Use the following Google Advanced Search to find out who is linking to the website you are viewing: "link: Type website URL here"