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Introduction to the Library and Research - Longview

This Introduction to the Library guide will provide students with information about using the library and beginning research.

Evaluating the Quality of the Website

The internet is completely unregulated and uncensored, with no constraints on the information that can be posted. On the internet, each individual can be his/her own publisher, and many are. As in any research process, users should critically consider the source as they evaluate online information. Use the C.O.S.T. (Content, Objectivity, Source, Timeliness) method and questions to help evaluate:

• Is it comprehensive?
• Are sources for factual information listed so they can be verified?
• Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and other typographical errors?
• Is the author’s conclusion based on sound and reasoned argument? Supported by evidence?

• What is the purpose of the site? To inform? To sell something? To persuade? To entertain?
• Beware of advertising that influences content – is there a conflict of interest?
• Is there evidence of bias?

• Who is the author/editor of the site? What are their credentials? Are these credentials verifiable?
• Read the site documentation (list of sources, bibliography, etc.)
• Can the legitimacy of the sponsoring individual, company or organization be verified?
• Check registered domain owners with WHOIS:

• How current is it?
• Are there dates on the page to indicate: When the page was written? When the page was first placed on the Web? When the page was last revised? 

Types of Websites

Understand the Types of Sites Available:

  • Advocacy sites – sponsored by an organization attempting to influence public opinion. The URL address of the page frequently ends in .org (
  • Business/Marketing sites – sponsored by a commercial enterprise (usually it is a page trying to promote or sell products). The URL address of the page frequently ends in .com. (
  • News Pages – primary purpose is to provide extremely current information. The URL address of the page usually ends in .com. (
  • Government Sites – purpose is to provide information pertaining to the U.S Federal, State, and Local government. The URL address of the page ends in .gov. (
  • Educational Sites- sponsored by a school and university. While these institutions are highly trusted, the quality of the websites endings can be very different. (
  • Personal sites – published by an individual who may or may not be affiliated with a larger institution.  Although the URL address of the page may have a variety of endings (e.g. .com,.html, etc.) (       


  • Be critical of any information you find on the internet.
  • Carefully examine each site.
  • Print out or download all pages you plan to use in your research to help with your bibliography.
  • Ask yourself, “Is the internet where I want to be?” It may take you an hour to answer a question that could be found in two minutes in a reference book, database, or by a librarian.
  • If you need more help in using and evaluating internet resources, please contact a reference librarian.