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BIOL 1 (Schmid): Evaluating Online Information

Research guide for BIOL 1, Introduction to Biology. This guide focuses on the project for Melody Schmid's BIOL 1 classes.

alt=""Throughout your life you will need to find trustworthy and reliable information about a variety of things. Right now you will need to find reliable information for your project in BIOL 1. But at some point you also might want to research a hobby, find the best car for the price, look into an upcoming trip, or numerous other things that come up in life. So how do you do this quickly and easily?

Evaluating Online Information

No matter where you start your search for information you will want to do a basic assessment. Below are some quick tips to help you evaluate an online resource.

  1. Scan the website. Does it look professional? Are there obvious errors such as grammar or spelling mistakes, or lots of broken links? How up to date is the information?
  2. What does the website say about the author and/or organization? This information should be transparent and verifiable. 
  3. Unless you know and really trust a resource, verify the information with several other resources. For example, Wikipedia articles often have a section called "controversy" or "criticism." You can also do a search for the creator of the information using the terms "controversy" or "criticism." Analyze who is saying what, and why.  Take this information into account when assessing your resource. 

For a more comprehensive list of evaluation techniques consult the Evaluating Online Information handout

The following series of videos walks you through verifying online sources. They provide a good set of skills for when you are searching for any type of online information. 

Online Verification Skills — Video 1: Introductory Video


Below are the other videos in the series:

Online Verification Skills — Video 2: Investigate the Source

Online Verification Skills — Video 3: Find the Original Source

Online Verification Skills — Video 4: Look for Trusted Work

Videos are provided through NewsWise - a news literacy program to provide school-aged Canadians an understanding of the role of journalism in a healthy democracy and the tools to find and filter information online.

Contact Information And Further Help

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Rachel Arteaga