Finding Credible Web Sources
About this guide
This guide provides tools for evaluating the information you find on the free internet, links to suggested resources for finding credible web sources, and links to citation guides for internet sources.
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Creating an Advanced Google Search
Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources to determine whether the sources you find are credible:
- Purpose: The reason the information exists. Is the purpose to sell, to entertain, to inform, to teach, or to persuade? Do the authors and publishers/sponsors make their purposes clear? Is this source designed for general readers or academic readers?
- Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs. Does it relate to your topic? Does it meet the requirements of your assignment? Is it too basic or too advanced?
- Objectivity: The reasonableness of the information. Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong or emotional language, or leave out important facts or alternative perspectives?
- Verifiability: The truthfulness and accuracy of the information. Where does the information come from? Can you verify it in other sources? Are there citations or links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic?
- Expertise: The source of the information. Who are the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the information? Are they experts, or has the information been reviewed by experts? Is it posted on a personal website or blog?
- Newness: The timeliness of the information. When was the information published or posted? Is it up to date? Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as technology or current events), or will older sources work as well?
For more tips on evaluating health information you find online, use the MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing.
The websites below are recommended by the librarians at the Luria Library. The list is arranged alphabetically by subject. It is not listed in recommended order. Please contact a librarian for specific assistance.
- Career Planning
- Countries / Cultures
- General / Multidisciplinary
- Social Sciences
California / U.S.
- California Population Data is taken from the latest data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. It provides statistics on population and congressional districts, including demographics, social, economic and housing characteristics by counties and cities in California. It also provides statistics on businesses, including types and sizes of businesses and building permits.
- Calisphere covers the culture and history of California in primary sources, including “photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, and other unique cultural artifacts.”
- FirstGov is the official web portal for the U.S. government. It provides access to information on the U.S. government and its services. It covers topics such as benefits/grants/loans, businesses/non-profits and immigration/citizenship. It also provides access to government agencies websites (federal, state, local and tribal).
- GPO Access Find Federal Government information through the Federal Digital System which “provides free online access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government.”
- Public Policy Institute of California provides non-partisan information on social, economic and political issues in California focusing on climate change/energy, correction, economy, fiscal/governance reform, health and human services, higher education, K-12 education, political landscape, population and water.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook is a guide to career information about hundreds of occupations. For each occupation, it provides information such as educational requirements, job responsibilities and working environments, salaries, and job outlook.
Countries / Cultures
- CIA World Fact Book provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 countries.
- Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection includes thousands of digitized maps, which can be downloaded as image files. World, country, state, and local maps are included, as well as historical, thematic, and topographic maps.
- Project Gutenberg includes over 45,000 free ebooks that can be read online or downloaded.
General / Multidisciplinary
- Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a directory of scholarly journals in different disciplines and languages that are available for free on the internet.
- Google Scholar searches like Google, but only retrieves credible, scholarly information in various disciplines. It includes journals, books, thesis and court opinions.
- HighWire includes journals, books, reference works and proceedings from independent scholarly publishers, societies, associations and university presses.
- Library of Congress offers a wealth of information from the print as well as the digital collections at the Library. The digital collections include America’s historic newspaper from 1836, America’s historic films and personal accounts of events, just to name a few.
- Open Science Directory includes free journals in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and the arts.
Voice of the Shuttle is a searchable list of thousands of links to humanities and humanities-related resources on the Internet. Topic pages include: Art, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Cyberculture, Dance, History, Literature, Media Studies, Music, Philosophy, Politics and Government, Religious Studies, Sci-Tech and Culture, Technology of Writing, and many others.
- MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health’s website for patients and their families and friends. It provides reliable, up-to-date information about diseases, treatments, and medications in language general audiences can understand.
- National Library of Medicine is the world’s largest biomedical library, which produces electronic information resources on a wide range of topics. NLM’s searchable databases include PubMed Central, which provides free biomedical and life sciences journal literature.
- PLOS (Public Library of Science) publishes seven peer-reviewed open-access science journals, including PLOS ONE (which covers all science disciplines) and PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine, PLOS Genetics, PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Pathogens, and PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
- Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan source of facts about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. The Pew Research Center’s Pew Internet & American Life Project conducts surveys that examine how Americans use the internet and how their activities affect their lives.
- Data and Statistics from USA.gov provides links to statistical information on a variety of topics such as business, international relations, environment, energy, health, education, law, science, recreation, and transportation.
- U.S. Census Bureau provides access to data about people, business, and geography, from the United States Census.
- World Bank Data provides free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe. Topics include Agriculture, Health, Poverty, Economy, Education, Energy, Science & Technology, Environment, Development, Trade, Gender, and others.
- For more help finding statistical information, check out the Sources of Statistical Information research guide.
Website Citation Guidelines
Here are some resources for creating website and webpage citations in three common styles. If you find other types of sources online (such as books, articles, PDF files, videos, etc.), more resources for creating citations are available on the Citation Guides page. As always, contact us via one of the options in the right-hand menu if you have questions!
- Electronic Sources in APA style guide from Purdue’s Online Writing Lab.
- Websites and Webpages in APA style from the Camosun College.
- Web Sources in Chicago style guide from Purdue’s Online Writing Lab.
- Webpages and Websites in Chicago style from the Camosun College.