The open Web contains a wealth of information published by governments, educational institutions, professional organizations, non-profit groups, commercial enterprises, and private individuals all over the world. Since there are no standards for information quality on the Web, not everything you find will be accurate or appropriate to use as research. Generally speaking, you can locate reliable information on authoritative Web sites, such as:
Government agency and department web site url addresses are identified by the .gov domain suffix:
College and university web site url addresses are identified by the .edu domain suffix:
- Example: Harvard University http://www.harvard.edu
- Excludes student or faculty pages hosted by the educational institution.
Professional society and non-profit organization web site url addresses are identified by the .org domain suffix:
Beware, not all .org sites are unbiased. There are organizations with Web sites in this category that exist to promote a specific point of view, for example, Planned Parenthood, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or the National Rifle Association.
Commercial or for-profit company web site url addresses are identified by the .com domain suffix:
If it is not obvious the information comes from an authoritative group, look for links such as "About Us," "Who We Are," or "Our Mission" to evaluate the source.