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Online Library Orientation: Evaluating Information

Evaluating Information

Using the Who-What-When-How-Why Test

Click through each page of the tutorial for more information about evaluating sources.

Using Information from Web Sites

Web sites - unlike databases - are not always well regulated.  You can be much more confident about your sources if you use journal articles and ebooks you find in the library's databases and print books from the library than if you use web sites.  Using databases makes narrowing down results and limiting them to reliable sources much easier and quicker than searching the Internet.  Evaluating web sites takes time and thought. 

If you do decide to use a web site, be sure to evaluate it carefully using the five criteria you learned about in the Evaluating Sources video.  Most instructors will not accept Wikipedia as a reliable source.  Checking the ending of the URL, or web address, may help you decide whether the information on that site is reliable.

  • .com and .net - primarily businesses; often selling products or promoting a company
  • .org - primarily not-for-profit organizations, for example AARP and NRA; may contain useful information but evaluate carefully because information may be one-sided
  • .gov - federal, state and local government sites; a good source of information, including statistics
  • .edu - universities, colleges, community colleges and public school systems; some contain research and other scholarly information, but evaluate carefully because they also include information for or by younger students

Fake News