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Evaluating websites: Home

A guide to help evaluate websites to check quality of information available online

The following is a quick guide on analyzing and evaluating the websites you use in your studies.

Follow these tips to help ensure that you use relevant, good quality and up-to-date online resources.

Evaluating tips

Before believing the information given on a web site, or quoting it in your essay or project, think about the following:

  • Who is responsible for the page/site?
  • Is it a reliable organisation (eg a well known university) or a subject expert?
  • Can you trust them?
Accuracy and reliability
  • Is the information correct?
  • Is the grammar and spelling correct?
  • Is it complete, or are they just giving one point of view?
  • Do they have their own agenda eg political organisations?
  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Can you tell how up-to-date it is?
  • Is it regularly updated?
  • You don't want to quote out-of-date information
Audience / relevance
  • Is the information of the right level to be quoted in your project? If it is aimed at the general public or school children it might not be!
  • Is the site well structured and easy to navigate?
  • Are the links from the page up-to-date and valid?
  • If it is well designed and maintained then you can feel more confident about the information it provides

Key resources and websites for your subject

To find websites and other resources to use for an essay, project or seminar take a look at your subject guide. Your Academic Liaison Librarian will have selected the most important and reliable sources to use.

A guide to domain names

You can quickly evaluate the authority of a website by looking at the URL of a website. This can help you find out who or what has created the website, and possibly their intent. The main part that you want is what is called the top level domain name, which is normally the last segment of a domain name which appears after the dot. 

For example: 

The top level domain name is highlighted in bold. 

Below are some common examples of domain names which you may come across. Note that even if the website comes from an official organisation, you will still need to verify the information provided. 

Domain Name  Published By a UK university the UK government The NHS 
.com or 

a commercial organisation.These websites may intend to sell you products rather than provide unbiased information.  

.org  mainly used by non-profit organisations
.edu an American university 

Citing websites

You can find many different types of information on the Internet. Check that the item you are referencing isn't a journal article, book chapter, or another type of publication which you should be citing in a different way.

Elements to include:

  1. Author (person or company that created the webpage)
  2. Year of publication or last update (in round brackets). Scroll to the bottom of the page but if there is no date put (no date)
  3. Page title (in italics)
  4. Available at: URL (Accessed: date)

Webpage created by a person

Reference list: Bologna, C. (2018) What happens to your mind and body when you feel homesick? Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2021).

In-text citation: (Bologna, 2018)

Webpage created by an organisation

Reference list: World Health Organization (2020) Salt reduction. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2021).

In-text citation: (World Health Organization, 2020)

Further guidance on referencing websites

Have a look at this Study Advice video tutorial (note that the format of the examples may not match the guidance given above):