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Library Primer 2.0: Evaluating Websites

Google Scholar Search

Scholarly full-text documents and links to Library periodicals and books

Google Scholar Search

Google Search

Google Web Search

Evaluate Websites Carefully

You can rely on the quality of information in Library databases because librarians, editors, and scholars have selected the materials. In contrast, for the most part, the Web is a vast and uncontrolled environment. Because of this, you, the user, must exercise judgment as to the validity and usefulness of the information. A Google search might easily produce 40,000 or even 400,000 results. You can't depend on the search engine's ranking system for relevant sources. Some commercial sites pay to appear at the top of the results list.

Here are some helpful criteria to use when evaluating web sites for scholarly purposes

  • Authority: The author should be identified and should be an expert on the topic.
  • Institution: The sponsoring organization may help you judge the quality of the information.
  • URL: Study the web address. Note the domain endings (.gov, .edu, .net, .com, .org) for clues as to the purpose of the information. Government and non-profit organizations sometimes have links to research documents.
  • Currency: Note the date the information was created and posted. Some information is time-sensitive.
  • Bias: Look for clues to the purpose of the information. Examine the document for objectivity and a source list.