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To assess any source (web site, video, book, article...) use the following questions to think about quality and validity:
- Author: Who is the author of the site? This can be a person (credentials are needed) or an agency (such as the National Science Foundation). You'll want the information to be coming from a credible source .
- Date: When was the information you want to cite written or last updated?
- References: Does the site reference the scientific literature or other reliable sources? Information presented without citation of the literature is not scholarly. You want to cite as many scholarly sources as possible and minimize the information you get from non-scholarly sources.
- Audience: Who is the audience of the site? If the site was written for a layperson or lower-level student, the information might not be in-depth enough for a senior biology student's paper.
- Funding: What is the funding source of the site? Advertising should be clearly distinguishable from content. Look for evidence of bias. This is more of a problem for sites that present health information.