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University of Wollongong Australia

Finding resources: Websites

Evaluating websites

How do you know if the information you find on the web is accurate and reliable?

Ask yourself:

  • who wrote it?
  • why was it written?
  • when was it written?
  • who was it written for?

Website addresses

The top-level domain of the website can give you some clue as to its focus. For example, a commercial website is likely to be focused on selling a product, while a website from an educational institution is likely to be focused on providing information.

Common domains  
.edu educational institutions
.gov government departments
.org organisations
.net networks
.com common body, company, personal websites
Country domains  
.au Australia
.uk United Kingdom
.ca Canada

More domain codes

Content currency

The date the page was created or updated is sometimes found in the footer. Out-of-date webpages may provide inaccurate information.

Check:

  • are there dates on the site?
  • when was the website last revised?
  • is the information current?
  • are the links relevant and still active?

Content creator

The author / owner is generally found in the website's header

  • Who wrote the content? Is there a link to their home page or curriculum vitae?
  • What are their qualifications?
  • Are they an expert in their field?

Purpose and coverage

Is the purpose of the website stated? Is it scholarly or informational?

  • What topics are covered?
  • How in-depth is the material coverage?
  • Who is the target audience? Is the level appropriate for your purpose?
  • Is the information reliable? Is it controversial, misleading etc?
  • Is there any bias on the page e.g. racial, political etc?
  • Is there a commercial sponsor who is using the page to promote their product?
  • Which country / region does the information cover?