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Library Lesson: Evaluating Online Sources

What You Will Learn

Medical Doctor to patient: To fix that sound in your car what you need to do is...

By the end of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Effectively evaluate information found on the open web

Check audio on your computer or have headphones ready.

Google Advanced

Image:  Google Advanced Search

Did you know there is an easy way to search by type of website (or domain)?  

Use Google Advanced Search to do just that.  

Finding .EDU and .GOV sites will take no time at all!

Step 1:  Type your search into a regular Google search box.

Step 2:  Look to the right of the search box.  Click on the Settings icon.

Step 3:  Scroll down and select Advanced Search.

Step 4:  Halfway down the page there is an open box called Site or Domain.  Type in the domain you want to limit to.  Ex:  .gov, .edu, .org

Seach IconYou can also look for images or content that is licensed specifically to be shared. This is helpful if adding images to a presentation. 

Follow the steps above to get to the Advanced Search

Look at the bottom of the form for Usage Rights. Change the selection to: Free to Use or Share.


Common Domain Types

.GOV Government: A local or federal government site.


.EDU Education: A site affiliated with an institution of education.


.ORG Organization: And advocacy website like a non-profit organization.


.NET Network: A site from a etwork organization or Internet provider, often a personal site.


.COM Commercial: A business or commercial site.


Is Wikipedia a credible source?

In the library we get this question all the time.  Watch the video to learn more about how Wikipedia is viewed academically.


Evaluating online sources

Evaluating Websites

To help determine of you are looking at a credible website use this checklist to ask questions about the website. If you can't find the answers to most of these questions, then it may be best to look for another website. 

Who:  The source of the information

Ask yourself:

  • Who is the author, source or publisher?
  • Is the author qualified to write on this topic?
  • Is there contact information, address, or email?

What:  The information fits your research need

Ask yourself:

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the best one to use?

When:  The information is up to date

Ask yourself:

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Where:  The information is honest and accurate

Ask yourself:

  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or by your own knowledge?
  • Are you able to fact check the information?

Why:  The reason the information was published

Ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • To inform? To teach? To sell? To persuade?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?
  • Does the website address reveal anything about the website?

How to Evaluate Sources

Watch this short video to learn how to apply the evaluation criteria to your sources.

Is Wikipedia Credible?