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.
Use the tabs above to navigate through the pages of this guide.
Need more help?
Have a question? Stop by the Reference Desk, or contact a librarian by phone, email, or chat for more help.
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. Source Evaluation Questions to help you determine whether the sources you find are credible:
- Purpose: How and why the source was created. Is it intended to educate, inform, persuade, sell, or entertain? Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors state this purpose, or try to disguise it? Why was this information published in this particular type of source (book, article, website, blog, etc.)? Is the source designed for the general public, students, or experts?
- Relevance: The value of the source for your needs. Does the type of source meet your assignment’s requirements? Does the information answer your question, support your argument, or add something to your knowledge of the topic? Is it too general or too specific? Is it too basic or too advanced?
- Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information. Do the authors present the information thoroughly and professionally? Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong, emotional, manipulative, or offensive language? Do they leave out, or make fun of, important facts or alternative perspectives?
- Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information. Do the authors support the information they present with strong factual evidence? Do they cite or provide links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic? Can you verify the information in other credible sources? Does the source contradict itself, include false statements, or misrepresent other sources?
- Expertise: The authority of the creators of the source. What makes the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the source authorities on the topic? Do they have related education, experience, or other expertise? Do they provide an important alternative perspective? Has the source been reviewed in some way, such as by an editor or through peer review?
- Newness: The age of the information. Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as science, technology, or current events), or could information found in older sources still be useful? When was the information presented in the source first published or posted? Are newer sources available that would add important information to your understanding of the topic?
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.”
- USA.gov 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.