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There is so much information available on the Web that determining if it is reliable or accurate can be difficult. This guide provides some criteria for students to use in evaluating the usefullness of web sites as research sources. Use these questions as a tool for your evaluation.


Who authored the web page? Is it a commercial/business (.com), government (.gov, .mil), academic (.edu), organization (.org), or personal web site?
  • Authored by an individual: Can you determine the person's qualifications? Is the author associated with an organization? Can you contact the author? Are there links back to the organization web site? Is the author associated with a University?
  • Authored by an organization: What are the organization's goals? Will this affect the bias of the information? Can you contact the organizaton from the web site? Is there a phone number, email address, mailing address? Are officers or board members identified? Is there contact information for officers/board members?
  • Authored by a business or commercial organizaton: Is something being sold on the site? Is the information generated by the business or from an outside source? Can you link to the source information?


  • What is the content? Is it an ad, speech, opinion, fact, research, article? Is that easy to determine?
  • From what source did the statistics and facts come? What data methods were used? Can they be verified? Are there links to the sources?
  • Does the information seem credible? Can you find other sites that confirm the information?
  • Does the site include images and photographs? Can you tell if they have been edited? Is the photographer or source identified?


  • When was the site last updated/revised?
  • When was the information posted on the site? Did it come from a site that is current?


  • Who is the intended audience? Is it for experts?
  • Is the page or site interactive? Can you change the content on the page?
  • Can you shop on the page?
  • Is the information free?


  • Is there a bias to the information? Is it intended to convince, sway, create opinion?
  • Is there an attempt to be neutral? Are multiple sides/opinions provided?
  • Is there advertising on the page? Do the ads affect opinion or objectivity?


One way for improving search results on the web is to use the advanced search features of Yahoo and Google when searching for information. Yahoo Advanced Search and Google Advanced Search allow users to search exact phrases, limit to specific urls, and exclude words from the search.

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Questions/comments to: Debbie Rogenmoser,Reference Librarian,; 2/07:Last updated 8/09