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Identifying Information Sources Online

Help with determining what type of source you've found online


Websites are easy to identify, right? You found something online so it must be a webpage, right? Not necessarily and there are many different types of webpages. 

Why do we care if we are on a webpage versus another type of source?

  1. We need to know what type of source we have as part of our evaluation of sources.
  2. We need to know what type of source we are looking at in order to properly cite the source in our papers. 

Webpage characteristics: 

  • No volume and issue numbers
  • Page titles may be present, but not necessarily
  • No journal titles can be found
  • Author may or may not be listed on the webpage

A word about .org and .edu websites

Despite what you may have learned in high school, having a site that ends in .org or .edu does not necessarily mean that the website is a credible source. all .org means is that the website is run by an organization. .edu just means it is an educational institute. The information may be credible or it may not be. You have to be the judge and evaluate what you find. 

Website Articles

Just to make life more confusing, sometimes you might be on a website that also publishes/hosts website articles. These articles are not attached to a journal, magazine, or newspaper, these website articles should be cited as articles in your reference/works cited page and look more like articles than a plain webpage. 

Website article characteristics

  • Title: You'll find a title for the article in addition to the title of the website.
  • Author: Most website articles will list an author.
  • Date: You should be able to find the date of publication. Sometimes, web articles will even list the time that the article was published.

website article image

image showing website article date of publication