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Organizing Research & Citations

Evaluating Websites

The internet has made it possible for anyone to publish web pages. Most websites have not undergone a review process for inclusion in a collection, whereas the resources in the Library’s password-protected databases have. For these reasons, you should closely evaluate any Internet resources you find to ensure they contain balanced, factual information. Reliable internet resources may include peer reviewed journal articles, government reports, conference papers, industry and professional standards, scientific papers, news reports, and quick facts and figures. However, keep in mind that just because a website is well presented does not mean that it contains accurate information. Here are a few things you can look for in Internet resources to determine whether or not they are reliable sources of information.

  • Can you identify the author of an Internet resource? If so, what do you know about this author's education, work history, affiliations, additional publications, etc.?
  • Can you find the date the Internet resource was last updated or published?
  • Does the Internet resource cite the work of others?
  • Does the content of the resource seem balanced and scholarly, or is it biased?
  • Who published the Internet resource? Was the web page published by a business, university, government organization, or professional association?
  • What is the intended audience for the Internet resource? Is it appropriate for university-level research? Or is it geared toward secondary education or a more general audience?
  • What is the domain of the Internet resource? If it ends in .org, .gov, or .edu it is more likely to be a scholarly source. If it ends in .com or .net it is less likely to be a scholarly source. Click here for a comprehensive list of common domain suffixes.

By addressing the questions above you can reasonably determine if an Internet resource is a reliable source of information.
Click here to download a website evaluation worksheet

For more information about evaluating websites, view the NU Library Workshop Website Evaluation.

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