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Evaluating Online Sources

Learn how to evaluate whether a website and its contents are reliable.

Evaluating Online Sources


This guide offers an introduction to evaluating online sources, including websites, social media, news stories, blogs, multimedia, etc. Whether you're looking for sources to use in a research assignment or browsing the web for personal reasons, it's always a good idea to consider whether or not the information you encounter online is reliable and trustworthy.

This guide will discuss misinformation challenges in our digital age, and will teach you some evaluation skills to help you get to the truth of the matter.

Why Do I Need to Evaluate Web Sources?

We all search for and use information on a daily basis, whether for classes or for personal reasons -- and often, searching online is the easiest way to get information quickly. 

But just because information is easy to find doesn't mean it's the best or most accurate information available.

When it comes to information, the Internet is kind of like the Wild West: it's basically unregulated. Almost anyone can create a website and say whatever they want, regardless of whether or not it's true. Sure, there's plenty of good information out there... but it often gets drowned out by nonsense, and worse, it can be really difficult to tell the difference. 

However, with a few evaluation skills in our toolbelt, we can get much better at sorting fact from fiction and identifying credible, trustworthy websites. 

The Internet vs. The Library

The library offers many excellent online resources, including e-books and access to journal and news article databases. Unlike websites and other sources you'll find through public search engines like Google, library resources have been reviewed by subject experts and librarians, and are more likely to be reliable and trustworthy sources of information. 

If you are doing research for an assignment, make sure you read your assignment carefully before including websites as sources. Many instructors expect you to use library sources for your assignments. You can always check with your instructor if you're not sure.