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Spanish: Using Google? Read this first!

Resources for the Study of Spanish Language and Literature

Spotting Fake News & Bad Research

The ABCs of Evaluating Websites

If you’re trying to evaluate a website, keep these ABCs in mind as you review your sources for quality. And see the handout in this box for more detailed information!

Authority - Is the website's author listed along with his/her credentials?  Usually a URL with .edu, .org or.gov is more reliable than.com and .net. But remember, if slight variations of well-known websites appear, such as “.com.co,” this is usually a sign that the website is a fake version of a source. Remember, a total lack of information about who wrote and published the information and why they did it means that you shouldn’t trust it!

Bias - Is the website objective, presenting both sides of an issue? Or, is the information presented to sway the audience to a particular point of view?  Who is the audience?  A certain political group, adults, children, researchers?  Depending on your purpose for using the website, the intended audience needs to be taken into consideration.

Currency/Credibility - Is the website current, providing the 'created' date and 'last updated' information? For example, medical and scientific information usually needs to be current.  But currency alone doesn’t verify the credibility of this type of resource.  Does the website mention/link to a study or source? Look up the source/study. Do you think it’s being accurately reflected and reported? Are officials being cited? Can you confirm their quotes elsewhere?

Note: One or more of the ABCs may be more important in evaluating a website, depending on the information you need.  For example, medical and scientific information usually needs to be current.  If you are trying to take a stand on an issue, a biased database may be acceptable as long as it is coming from a reliable source (authority).

Evaluating Articles and Books

Please consider these issues as you evaluate your books and articles.

Authority / Reliability / Credibility

  • The author is a well-known, well-respected expert in the field
  • The material has been peer-reviewed, which is a process of subjecting an author's scholarly work or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the field.  Articles from peer-reviewed journals have been reviewed by other scholars in the field before publication.
  • You have reason to trust that the information is accurate
  • The bibliography indicates that the author did sufficient research before writing this book or article
  • The information is up-to-date relative to other research in the field

Perspective/Objectivity/Purpose

  • The book or article addresses your research topic
  • The information is presented fairly, with all sides of the argument considered and given equal treatment
  • The information thoroughly and accurately covers the topic
  • It is not superficial information

Google Search Tips

You can find quality websites by doing a Google advanced search and specifying one of the following domains:

.edu (education) 

.gov (government) 

.org (organization)

1.  From within your Google search results, select advanced search: 

2. At search within a site or domain, enter .gov .org or .edu.  Note that you need to specify one domain at a time:

3.  In the above example, the websites will all be from a .gov domain.  You will still need to review the website ABCs, but generally a domain search will yield better results.