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Evaluating Online Resources

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Evaluating Online Resources

With the abundance of false information on the web, it is important to ensure the information you are gathering is accurate and reliable. But how do you do this? This guide will help you evaluate web resources through analyzing the web domain and the material within. 

Something to consider

If you are only using public search engines, such as Google, you are missing out on important scholarly resources. You may find some relevant information, but you will need to take extra care when evaluating the resources. As a Widener student, you have access to many valuable databases, electronic journals, and eBooks that are not available to the general public. Consider the following so you don't miss out on valuable information:

Public Web Pages (Free) Widener Subscription Webpages
Anyone can publish any and all content Information is vetted, peer-reviewed

Information may be reliable, proceed with caution


  • Websites of scholarly professional societies are likely to be reliable                                                                         
  • Blogs containing personal opinions may not be reliable or accurate
  • Advocacy websites may be biased and therefore not reliable
  • Commercial websites trying to sell a product or service may not be reliable

Information is reliable


  • Online versions of scholarly publications or newspapers are reliable (when using newspaper articles, watch for opinion pieces).
  • Databases Widener subscribes to are all vetted, scholarly resources

The Information Iceberg - Free Web vs. Deep Web

Searching the Free Web vs. Deep Web

Searching the Internet (Free Web) Searching Research Databases (Deep Web)
  • Access to many articles requires payment
  • Access to articles and ebooks are paid for by university's subscription
  • You much check credibility and accuracy yourself
  • Already checked for credibility and accuracy by subject experts
  • Information may be outdated and latest research may require payment
  • Current information and latest research available
  • Very broad search of many types of sources
  • Focused searching in subject specific databases
  • No citation tools
  • Citation tools available in the databases