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Sociology Research Guide: Websites

A guide to resources for sociology

Evaluating websites

Can't I just use Google?

We aren't going to tell you not to ever use Google -- we use it to answer questions all the time! Just remember that not everything you find will be reliable, unbiased, up-to-date information.

If your professor allows you to use websites for your research paper/project, make sure you critically evaluate them first.

How do I evaluate something on the internet?

Ask yourself some questions about what you're reading:

  • Who? Who owns the site—e.g., a company, a government agency, a university, an individual blogger? Who writes articles on the website, and what else do they write about?
  • What? What does the site tell you about your topic? Does it back up claims with citations or links to other reliable websites?
  • When? When was the site published/last updated? You should not find any broken links.
  • Why? Why was the site created—e.g., to inform, to entertain, to sell something? Does the site contain an "About Us" section or mission statement?

 

Comic that reads: "I've heard the rhetoric from both sides...time to do my own research on the real truth." Second panel shows Google results that say "Literally the first link that agrees with what you already believe." Third panel: "...Jackpot."

Comic from Chainsawsuit.com