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Biology 115L: Principles of Biology: Searching the Internet

This guide brings together library resources needed by students completing assignments for Biology 115L

Internet Research Skepticism

The Internet is largely an uncontrolled mass of information.

Ask yourself, "Would my professor consider this a scholarly source?"

Look at every web site you are thinking of citing based on COALA

         Currency --  Is the information up to date? When was the last time it was updated? Be careful about trusting information you find on an old Web site.

         Objectivity -- What is the Web site's purpose? Is it solely to provide information or is it to sell a product or express an opinion? Is it biased? Are facts included?

         Authorship -- Is the person or company publishing the information reliable and trustworthy? What are this person's credentials? Can this person claim authority in that field?

         Layout -- Is it easy to find information on the Web site? Does the Web site have a lot of pop-up ads and distracting advertisements? Such tools can take away from a site's content.

         Accuracy -- Is the material correct? Are there any spelling or grammar mistakes? Has the information been edited and fact-checked? Are there any factual errors?


Adapted from: "Evaluating Online Sources."  World News Digest.  Facts On File News Services.  11 Aug. 2009  <>.


Evaluating Web Resources

How reliable is the information found on the World Wide Web? To find out, Internet researchers can use these guidelines. Not every criteria must be met for a resource to be valuable, but more reliable sources are generally more accurate, authoritative, and current.

A quality resource contains current, accurate facts presented by an authoritative author whose bias or objectivity is clearly stated. The information presented fits your needs.

A poor choice for quality might contain outdated data or inaccurate assumptions presented by an unidentifiable author whose bias is unacknowledged. Even worse, the information presented is not suited to your needs.