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Using the Web as a Research Tool

Using the Web as a Research Tool

Author: Nikki Hansen

To provide tips on how to discern whether or not a website is a reliable source during research

This packet provides tips on how to discern whether or not a website is valuable or useful in terms of research.

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Is This Website A Reliable Resource?

How to Evaluate Web Content

When you are using the internet for research, you will encounter a variety of opinions, articles, journals and more.  Before you cite one of these web pages in a paper, or use it as a reference in a presentation or discussion, you should verify the reliability and validity of the page.

- Check that the author has expertise on the topic. Is this a published author? Are they affiliated with a school, scholarly journal or other organization? 

- Check the sources. Are there any listed on the page? Are they professional sources, or opinion-based (facebook, blog, gossip magazine) sources? The level and depth to which the sources and the author go will let you know if the page is a reliable source. 

- Check to see the website maintenance. When was it last updated? Check for posting and editing dates. 

- Check the site for contact information.

Five Additional Tips:


If your page lists the author and institution that published the page and provides a way of contacting him/her, and . . .


If your page lists the author credentials and its domain is preferred (edu., gov., org. or .net) and . . .


If your page provides accurate information with limited advertising and it is objective in presenting the information, and . . .


If your page is current and updated regularly (as stated on the page) and the links (if any) are also up-to-date, and . . .


If you can view the information properly--not limited to fees, browser technology, or software requirement, then . . .


You may have a higher quality Web page that could be of value to your research!