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Evaluating Web Sites

The Internet offers access to millions of websites. However, not all sites are accurate, current or appropriate for research. You must select sites carefully if you plan to include information from them in your own work.

Some things to think about before using the Internet for research:
  • There is no quality control on the Internet. Anyone with proper equipment can publish a website -- whether or not they know what they're talking about!
  • The Internet is not always the most effective way to find information. Searching the Internet can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
  • Ask yourself if it would be easier, faster or more effective to use reference books, newspapers, or other library resources. Your librarians can help you find what you need.
  • Whenever possible, use recommended sites (see Subject Links and Research Resources) and online databases such as INFOTRAC and EBSCO.

Some questions to ask to evaluate Internet sites:
  • What type of site is it? Educational? Commercial? Personal? Pay attention to URL endings like .edu, .org, .gov, and .com.
  • Is the purpose of the page to inform, to persuade, to entertain, or to sell you something?
  • Who is the author/creator of the website?
  • What are his/her credentials? Is he/she an expert in the field? Does he/she give an address to contact?
  • If the website is sponsored by an organization, what is its reputation? Does it present information without bias?
  • How current is the information? Check to see when the page was updated.
  • Is the information reliable? Can you find it in more than one source?
  • Does the creator of the website cite his/her sources?

Finally, remember to cite your sources.
Be sure to gather all the information you will need from each website in order to include it in your list of works cited. Click below for examples on how to cite electronic sources: Citing-Online-Sources