F&M College Library

International Studies

How to Use Websites as Sources

As repeated below, not all Websites are created equal! The Websites in the column on the right have been vetted and approved for use in scholarly research. How do you know if a Website is credible and authoritative? Take a look at the criteria listed in the column on the left. If in doubt, always make sure to ask your professor or a librarian if the site is suitable for your research purposes. It's okay if a Website has a slight bias or slant as long as you know that and factor it in to your evaluation. Two good sources for looking at all sides and media bias ratings are listed below,


Evaluate Sources

When you're looking at a website or other online source, it's important to remember that not all sources are equal in terms of quality or content. What could make a suitable source for one project, could be inappropriate for another. Always consult with your librarian or professor before using open online content. 

The questions below are a critical lens for you to use when evaluating web sources for your academic work. You don't have to answer every question, but try to cover all of the broader, bolded questions. QUICK TIP: Always find the "About" section of the Website first.


  • Who wrote the source? Can you find an author or authors listed on the site? 
  • What kind of background does the author have? Try Googling their name - what other kinds of things have they written? 
  • Is there an institution, organization, or corporate entity that is behind the website? What interests might they have? 


  • What is the source about? 
  • How does the source's topic or content align with their mission and identity? 


  • When was the source written? 
  • Can you find a date anywhere on the website, or on the particular article or source you're looking at? Remember, an "updated" date at the bottom of a webpage does not necessarily mean that all content was updated as of that time. 


  • What is the URL of the website you're on? Sometimes, you can tell more about a website based on the end of it's address (e.g. .edu, .com, .net, etc). 


  • Think back to the author of the source, if you found one. What possible motivation could they have for writing the source? 
  • Does the source have a clear message? Does that message align with the author/websites' intentions? 


  • How did you find the source? 
  • How is the source getting its message across? 

Websites for Use in Exploring International Studies

Journalistic sites

Website Evaluation Exercises

Questions to Answer:

  • What is the domain?
  • What can you find out about the author(s)
  • Does the site have editors?
  • Does the author/editors have a neutral perspective on the site’s subject matter, or is he or she trying to promote a particular viewpoint?
  • Has the site been recently updated?