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Biology Subject Guide: Useful Websites

Useful Websites

The following are selected websites which could be potentially be useful in your research. While more likely reputable, you will still need to evaluate each source individually.

Evaluating Resources

When using resources from the web, you must carefully evaluate the source before utilizing its content. The following criteria can help you evaluate resources: 

Domain - The quality of information and the type of URL are interrelated. A ".gov" or ".edu" URL is more trustworthy than a ".com" or ".net". A ".org" URL will require deeper investigation, as it then depends on the type of organization. 

Authority - Is the author's name visible? What are the author's credentials? Is contact information for the author available?

Currency - Is the website up to date? Websites with information that is updated regularly are preferable to those that are left out-of-date or recycled too often. 

Bias - Anyone can create informational content online. Look out for a works cited list and advertisements to evaluate the bias and possible inaccuracies in the information. 

Origin - How did you find this source? Was it recommended by a faculty member, cited in a scholarly journal article, or linked by another trustworthy website? Where you got this information can indicate how reliable it might be. 

Functionality - If the website contains broken links, is difficult to navigate, and malfunctions often, then it reflects poorly on the credibility of the information. 

How do you know if you have found reliable information? The CRAAP Test is a list of questions that you can use to evaluate the information that you find.

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
    • examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?