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Evaluating Information Sources: Websites

Library Guide

Why Evaluate Websites?

Unlike most print resources, much that appears on the web has not gone through a peer review, or even an editing process. Therefore, you must always critically evaluate websites before trusting their content.

How to Evaluate Websites

When critically evaluating websites, 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
      • - 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: Additional Useful Links

Google vs Google Scholar vs Library Databases

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using Google, Google Scholar, and Library Databases?