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Library Orientation: Using Internet Resources

An easy access point to the LRD library resources.


Some professors think that using the internet or websites is an incorrect way to do research. And if your professor has specified that you should only use scholarly sources, then this isn't the right page for your research.

But there are multiple types of information available on the internet, and it's important to know how to evaluate what you are finding. To be sure, much of what you find on the internet is not trustworthy --  a lot of the content is biased or factually incorrect. However, there are many resources out there that are valid and useful. It is your job to be able to tell the difference.

Below is a very simple list of criteria that you should use when judging a website. The link at the bottom goes to a really good site that goes into more depth on this process.

Want to learn more? Visit the Internet Sources for Research Guide.

Critiquing Websites

Some of your assignments and research papers will require the use of websites - but the information gleaned from websites can't be used thoughtlessly. It must be critiqued.

These are fundamental criteria by which you judge a source of information:

  • Author
  • Date of Publication
  • Edition or Revision
  • Publisher
  • Intended Audience
  • Objective Reasoning
  • Coverage
  • Writing Style

Websites require a second level of scrutiny*:

  • What can the URL tell you?
  • Who wrote the page? Is he, she, or the authoring institution a qualified authority?
  • Is it dated? Current, timely?
  • Is information cited authentic?
  • Does the page have overall integrity and reliability as a source?
  • What's the bias?
  • Could the page or site be ironic, like a satire or a spoof?
  • If you have questions or reservations, how can you satisfy them?

*From Evaluating Webpages: Techniques To Apply & Questions To Ask, produced by the UC Berkeley Libraries. This is a good, comprehensive guide to evaluating websites.

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