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BIOL 218: Principles of Zoology: Evaluating Resources

A guide to library and web resources specific to Biology 218.

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:

Authority - Is the website's author listed along with his/her credentials?  Usually a URL with .edu, .org is more reliable and .net

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 - Is the website current, providing the 'created' date and 'last updated' information?

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


  • 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.  On the Google website, 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.