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Evaluating Sources: Evaluating Websites for Content

Unlike online databases, information retrieved using search engines has not been evaluated by librarians. Use these tips, tricks, and strategies to see if the site you are using is credible.

Reliable Websites to use for Evaluation

Here are some links to reliable sites that will help you with your evaluation:

Research Ready

Cornell Web Evaluation Website

UC Berkeley Web Evaluation Tips

Website Suffixes

Confused by a suffix to a website URL?

  • .gov =       a U.S. government website
    (i.e., White House)
  • .com  =     a commercial website
    (i.e., Amazon)
  • .edu =       an educational website
    (i.e., Florida Atlantic University)
  • .org =        an non-profit organization website (i.e., National Education Association)
  • .uk, .fr, etc. = websites from countries other than U.S. (i.e., United Kingdom, France, etc.)

Looking for Content

One of the biggest problems that individuals have with websites is that they are not sure that the content that they receive is accurate. Here are some basic ways to evaluate a website.

  1. What does the domain name tell you? If the domain name includes .gov at the end it is a government website (, if has an .edu it is educational (, and .org is for non-profits ( Remember that just because a site is a non-profit, doesn't mean it may not have bias, but in general these are more reliable sites. Sites that have a country code at the end .uk and .au for example, are not regulated strictly and you should take care to evaluate it further.  

  2. Look at the URL (the web address located on the top of the page in the address bar). Does the URL have a name included like Yahoo, Geocities, etc.? Is there a personal name in the URL? That may give you a clue that it is a personal site and reflects the views of an individual person.

  3. Who wrote the page? Is there a page author listed? If there is no author, is there a company name? Is there contact information listed? If there is no one listed that takes responsibility for the page you may want take that into consideration.

Questions to ask when evaluating websites

If you are not using the Centre databases, you need to consider some questions when evaluating information from the Internet:

How current is the information?

  • Are dates provided?  
  • When was the information written?
  • When the page was last modified or updated?
  • Are the links (if any) up to date?

How objective is the information?

  • Is the information biased or is the author presenting more than one side of the argument?
  • Is the page designed to sway opinion?
  • Is the purpose clearly identified?
  • Is there a sponsor or advertising on the page?

How authoritative is the source of information?

  • Is the author identified?
  • Does the Webpage have a sponsor? If so, is the sponsor reputable?
  • Does the Webpage provide information about the author or the sponsor?
  • Does the URL contain an .edu, .gov domain?

How accurate is the information?

  • Is the information relieable?
  • Are facts or statistics backed up by citations or a bibliography?
  • Is there someone, besides the author, who verifies this information?

How is the information covered on my topic?

  • What topics are covered?
  • How in-depth does the information go?
  • Does the page offer information not found elsewhere?

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Fernando Gonzalez
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