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How to Evaluate Websites
Unlike most print resources, much that appears on the web has not gone through a peer review, or even an editing process. Consider questions such as:
- What institution or Internet provider supports this information?
- Look for a link to the homepage.
- Does the author provide background information relating to his/her authority for expertise in this area?
- If the the author's credentials are not clear from the site itself, search in the library or on the Web for information about the author and his/her publications.
- What does the ‘About Us’ button tell you?
- When was this information last updated?
- Look at the top or bottom of pages. Is it current enough to be of use for your topic?
- Check links - are they up to date? Do they work?
- What is the site's domain?
- Look at the endings of URL addresses
- The following list shows several sites defined by their domain. Generally speaking, .edu, .gov or .org domains are more reliable than .com.
- .edu - educational institutions
- .gov - government bodies
- .org - organizations, non-profit
- .com - commercial businesses, for-profit
- .net - organizations related to the Internet itself
- .ca - sample country, i.e., Canada
- .gc.ca - Canadian government
Tip: Start with reliable and scholarly Internet resources (including electronic journals) evaluated by Waterloo Librarians that are listed in Research guides by subject
Other websites with scholarly information:
Based in part on: Evaluating Sources (Ohio University) (2011/11)
Evaluating Websites Checklist
Use this checklist from the University of Maryland to evaluate what you find for yourself.
Google vs Google Scholar vs library databases