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Section: Evaluating Web Resources

Is the information authoritative and accurate?

Deciding whether information is authoritative and accurate depends on finding out who is responsible for creating it and putting it on the web. Is the responsible person(s) or organization(s) a reliable source for information on the topic?  Some questions to ask yourself follow here and on the next few pages...

Who is responsible for the information?

Is an author's or organization's name on the webpage?  If this information is not on the page that you are looking at, try to find it elsewhere on the same website.

The following links might help find this information:

  • About link
  • Home link
  • Contact Us link
  • Mission statement link

Backtrack on the URL (e.g.

What is a URL?

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator.  More commonly, most people just refer to the URL as the web address.  Every page on the web has its own URL.

The URL contains a significant amount of information.  For example, for, the following can be deduced:

  • the page is called index
  • index is contained in a folder called webclass
  • webclass is located on a server called

Actually, the link is for the first page of the Web Research Tutorial.  This tutorial could be hosted on any institution's or individual's web server if they chose to make it available, but the URL tells us that the information is coming from the yorku (York University) web server. 

To a non-York person, the yorku in the URL may be meaningless (that person could go to to discover that it's the URL for the York University homepage).  However, there is one other piece of information in the URL that provides a clue as to where the information comes from.  The suffix .ca in indicates that the information comes from a Canadian institution.  Not all Canadian institutions will have .ca in their URLs, but if you see .ca, you can be confident that you are looking at information hosted by a Canadian institution.  Some other common suffixes are:

  • .com [used by many commercial websites]
  • .edu [used by American educational institutions]
  • .gov [government]
  • .mil [used exclusively by the U.S. military]
  • .org [used by associations and non-profit organizations, typically in Canada and the United States]

Checking the suffix can provide a context for you to interpret the information presented on web pages.  For example, for .com, be aware that there may be commercial interests slanting the information presented.  For .org, the information may be presented to champion a particular cause.  Webpages with the suffix .mil may present information that champions pro-U.S. military viewpoints or policies.  None of these factors is necessarily problematic, but be aware of them when evaluating information that you find on the web.


Question: Who appears to be responsible for the following webpage: Beef Facts: Nutrition [opens in a new window]?


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