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Library Resources

Various Academic Support Resources at the Allen College Library


Anyone can publish anything on the Internet!

Library databases are an excellent place to begin your research because content has been reviewed by editors, publishers, or scholars.

Few web pages go through the process of peer review or editing that magazines and journals do, so the quality and reliability of web pages varies tremendously. No standards exist to ensure the information is accurate or reliable.

When evaluating web sites for research, consider the factors provided on this page to help determine the reliability of the web site.

Questions to Consider When Evaluating a Website


  • Who wrote the content on the page?
  • Is contact information for the author provided?
  • What are the author’s credentials or qualifications?
  • Is it possible to find biographical information about the author in other sources?

A reputable author or organization should be providing the information.


  • What is the purpose of the web page? Is it intended to inform, advertise or influence?
  • Is the site sponsored by an organization? Is the purpose of the organization provided? Where does the organization receive its funding?
  •  Is the information provided biased or one-sided?
  •   Are there advertisements on the page? Could the web page be an advertisement disguised as information?
  •  Are misleading or deceptive arguments used?
  • What is the domain of the web address? (.gov, .com, .org)
  • Is the page a satire, parody or spoof?
  • What opinions, if any, are expressed by the author?

The purpose of the web page should be to inform or educate.


  • When was the page created or last updated?
  • Are there links to other sources? Are the links up-to-date?
  • Are there accurate and useful citations to other reliable resources on the subject?
  • Can the background information can be verified in other sources?
  • Is the information provided comprehensive or in-depth, or is it superficial?
  • Is the site as credible and useful as those available from the library’s print or electronic resources?

Information provided should be able to be verified in other sources.

The web page should be regularly updated with relevant and current links.


  • Is the page easy to read and navigate?
  • Is the organization logical?
  • Is the spelling and grammar accurate?
  • Do the design elements add to or detract from the content?

The web page should be well-designed, well-edited and user-friendly.

Rate a Website

Is it a Hoax?

Did someone forward you an alarming email? Did you come across a web site or story that sounds unlikely? Check out these web sites before you unwittingly perpetuate an untrue rumor.

Why be suspicious?

Check out these web sites that are good examples of why you should always be cautious about what you read on the internet.


One of the factors to consider when evaluating whether a web site is reliable is the domain in the URL address. For example: has a .gov domain, meaning it is produced by a government entity. The following chart gives you an overview of the most commonly used domains. Another thought is that many websites are not holding to this pattern now, so use caution when evaluating any website.


What It's Good For
What to Watch Out For



May provide facts, statistics or information on current issues

Generally contains reliable and useful information.



May provide scholarly work or other information from academic departments

Individual pages from students or faculty vary in reliability and accuracy.



May provide company reports, history, statistics or product information.

May attempt to sell a product or present advertising as information


non-profit organization

May present facts, statistics, studies or other information.

May be biased and attempting to influence opinion. Check information against other resources for reliability.



May be difficult to establish author’s true identity, authority or credentials.

Unless author is established or well- known in the field, any information that is presented should be verified in reliable sources.