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Google and Google Scholar: Evaluating websites

A guide on how to use Google and Google Scholar effectively.

Evaluation criteria for websites

The following criteria are appropriate for evaluating information of any kind. Evaluation is especially imporant when dealing with information found online. Review the following criteria and answer the questions based on the web page you are evaluating. A high quality source with quality information will enable you to answer MOST of the questions with a "YES."



Defines  who created the content,  the individual or group's credentials/expertise and provides contact information

  • Do you know who published the source?
  • Is the author's name easily visible?
  • What are the author's credentials and are they appropriate for the information provided?
  • Can you find contact information?
  • Is the source produced by a reputable organization?


Content is balanced, presenting all sides of an issue and multiple points-of-view

  • Are various points-of-view presented?
  • Is the source free of bias towards one point-of-view?
  • Is the objectivity of the source consistent with its purpose?
  • Is the source free of advertising?


Content is grammatically correct, verifiable and cited when necessary

  • Is the content grammatically correct?
  • Is the information accurate and verifiable?
  • Are sources and references cited?
  • Does the tone and style imply accuracy?


Content is relevant to your topic or research

  • Does the purpose of the source (e.g. research, statistical, organizational) meet your needs?
  • Who is the intended audience? Will information directed to this audience meet your needs?
  • Is the information relevant to your research topic?


Information is current and updated frequently

  • Do you know when the information was originally published and is the date acceptable?
  • Do you know when the information was last updated and is the date acceptable?
  • Are web  links current and reliable?
  • Do charts and graphs have dates?


**Used with permission, Camdon-Carroll Library, Morehead State University, USA.

Evaluating Websites

Analyzing URLs

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a web address for a page or document on the World Wide Web. We can make some educated guesses about the reliability of a web site if we know a little about URLs. 

Each URL (for example, consists of an access protocol (http), a domain name (, and an optional path to a file or resource residing on that server (about/internships).

The domain name indicates the organization responsible for the site ( in the example above). The top-level domain indicates the type of site (gov in the example above).

The most common top-level domains and the type of site they indicate are:

  • com     commercial business or for-profit organizations
  •   commercial South Africa
  • gov      United States government agencies
  •   government South Africa
  • edu      educational institutions
  • ac        academic institutions
  • mil       United States military organizations
  • org       non-profit organizations

In general, .gov and .edu web sites are more reliable than .com web sites.