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Evaluating Resources: Evaluate Websites

Learn how to analyze resources for currency, reliability, authority, and purpose to find out whether they are suitable for use in your research.

Why Not Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is a good place to start the research process, but a bad place to end it.

Why doesn't your instructor want you to use Wikipedia for research?

  • Articles can be edited by anyone to include false or misleading information.
  • Articles can be changed, so the information you cite may vanish before your readers can find it.
  • It's not an authoritative source.

This does not, however, mean you can't look at Wikipedia at all!

Here is how Wikipedia can be useful:

  • It provides a useful overview of the topic and its terminology, so you can get an idea of keywords or topics you might research.
  • It provides outside references at the end, some of which are reputable and can be used as sources.

Before using any resources mentioned in Wikipedia, use your evaluation skills to make sure they are appropriate!

Domain Names

Domain name suffixes often give clues on the reliability of information found on websites. Educational and government sites are generally the most suitable for scholars and students.

Major domain name suffixes include:

  • .edu - educational institutions
  • .gov - government agencies
  • .mil - military sites
  • .org - nonprofit organizations
  • .com - commercial sites
  • .net - networks
  • .uk, .ca, etc. - Websites hosted in other countries (e.g. United Kingdom, Canada, etc.)