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ENGL 101 - Plevin: Web Sites & How to Evaluate Them

Designed for use with assignment on chapter 2 of Walden by Henry David Thoreau.

The Thoreau Institute

The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods Library is a center for research and education focused on Henry David Thoreau, his literary achievements and philosophy, and his influence on environmental and social movements.  It has the most comprehensive Thoreau research collection in the world.



Evaluating Web sites

If you run across a random article on the Internet, you need to ask at least two questions in order to determine if it is a scholarly source and therefore acceptable for an academic, or college-level, project:

  • Who wrote the article, and is that writer a "scholar" (having an advanced degree and/or affiliated with an academic institution)? If no credentials of the author are listed, then he or she is probably NOT a scholar. If no author is listed, then the source is definitely NOT a scholarly source.
  • Is the article sponsored by a scholarly organization (such as a university or college or scholarly journal)? If so, it can usually be assumed to be a scholarly source.

Of course, there are times when non-scholarly web sites may be acceptable research sources, but for these it is especially important to determine their quality.  For help in applying criteria to web sites, watch the following video The Research Process: Evaluating Websites produced by Pollak Library, California State University, Fullerton: