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Biology 3301 Course Guide

Evaluating web resources

Evaluating Sources

General Guidelines:

  • Choose sources that are reputable, up-to-date, known to be reliable, and broadly accepted as presenting valid information on the given topic.
  • Keep in mind that, with rare exceptions, no single organization’s textbook or source material reflects the definitive body of scientific knowledge on a subject.
  • Citing multiple reliable sources shows the independence of the scientific/health principles in the piece, and gives your reader a sense of how well your topic is supported by the literature.
  • Resources that are adequately up-to-date on the topic(s) of interest and widely regarded as accurate by industry experts may be used as sources.

Web Sources:

Use caution when searching the Web for sources. Anyone with access to the Internet can post websites about topics that interest them. These sites are not always accurate.

Determine who or what the source is: A research or educational institution, an organization, a political party, government, a special society, an MLM (multi-level marketing) company, a for-profit company? Also find out how recent the material is.

Keep in mind:

.edu represents educational or research material

.gov represents government resources

.org represents organizations (such as nonprofits and trade associations)

.com represents commercial products or commercially-sponsored sites

In general, most websites ending in .gov and .edu (large, reputable institutions) are good resources. So are many sites ending in .org (reputable nonprofits/trade associations). When using .org sites, avoid those with political or philosophical agendas that may not be appropriate.

Most websites ending in .com are not good sources because they usually have a sales/marketing agenda.