Evaluating Websites as Reliable Resources

Determining the Validity of Web Pages

The World Wide Web contains millions of documents. This can make finding what are you are looking for very difficult, especially if you need an authoritative source for research purposes. Use these guidelines to help you determine the validity of the pages you find.


  • Does the page have a copyright date?
  • Is the information up to date? When was the page last updated?
  • Pages are most reliable when you know when they are updated.
  • If it is not stated, you can find out this way (directions are for the Firefox browser):
    • On the top of your screen, go to "Tools" on the toolbar
    • Choose "Page Info"
    • Look for the field entitled "Modified:"


  • Are there spelling, punctuation or grammar mistakes?
  • Are there a lot of flashy graphics and not much text?
  • If so, you may want to think twice about using it for your research. Reliable pages should look professional and be error-free.


  • Who wrote the Web page?
  • Is it signed by the author or sponsoring institution? A reputable institution will put its name on its page.
  • If it is signed by a single author, can you find out his/her credentials? Is s/he an expert in your field, or just another "Joe Schmo"? Be wary of pages without this information.


  • Is there a bias in the language used on this page?
  • Does it give both sides of a controversial issue?
  • Does it link to only sites containing the same point of view?


  • Is this the best possible information you can find on your topic? Many times, you can still find more in-depth information from books and articles.

Citing the Internet

You must cite the Internet sources you use just as you do for print sources.  The following resources should prove helpful.

CSM LibGuides:

Purdue OWL:


Sample Research Papers

From Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)

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