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RCE 620: Home


This guide was created for your RCE 620 course.

Before you get started:

Below, you will find tips and questions to help you decide if the resource you are thinking about using are the type of resources you should be using in your research.

Also, remember that many quality sources are not available on the Internet, especially for free. Be sure to consult the library's print and electronic collections when conducting research.

Evaluating Online Resources

Authority: Can you trust the source?

Tip: Look for pages like, "About Us", "History", "FAQ" (make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page), to find information about the organization or individual who created the content or manages the website. If you cannot find information on who the author is or the website creater/admin is then do not use this resource!

  • Can you identify the author?
  • If the author is an individual, what are his or her credentials or other qualifications? Is the author a recognized authority in the relevant field of study?
  • If the author is a corporation, government body, or special interest group, what can you find out about the organization? Do your research! Make sure that the organization is not biased. 
  • What is the domain of the website? Some domains (e.g. .edu, .gov, indicate that the webpage is hosted by a government or educational institution. These are more likely to provide reliable information. Be careful when reviewing websites with .org domains as this domain is not restricted to verified organizations. 

Currency: Is the information up to date?

Tip: If you cannot find any indication of when the page was last updated (usually located at the bottom of the page) or a creation date then do not use this information unless the content is historical in nature and the author/content manager is reliable.

  • Are you able to determine when the website or webpage was created? When was the page last updated?
  • Is the information time-sensitive? Some types of information go out of date quickly (e.g. medical knowledge).

Purpose: Why was the website/page created?

  • Who is the intended audience? Is the information written for an academic or popular audience?
  • Is the website/page intended to inform? To persuade? To sell a product?
  • Does the author present a balanced view of the topic? Are opposing viewpoints acknowledged?

Content: Is the information that the website/page presents quality academic research?

Tip: Look for misspellings and casual language.

  • Is the website/page organized in a logical and understandable manner?
  • Are the author's arguments well-reasoned and supported by sufficient evidence? Can you verify the information elsewhere?
  • Does the author cite his or her sources? Are there many citations? Are the materials cited primarily scholarly sources? Are they a mix of primary and secondary sources, or only secondary sources?