Use a website when you need up to date information or the status is bound to change. Not all disciplines require the use of a website. For example, History, English, and Math questions maybe answered from a resource such as a book. Technology, however, changes quickly over time and to keep current one may need to access the Internet to secure the most up to date information. Other disciplines that fall into this category of rapidly changing information are Business, the Health Sciences and the why of a particular event.
You may want to first look at the event in context, such as its source. This is called evaluating the authority of the source. Embedded in this word is the word author, the sponsor of the information and or owner.
First: Evaluate the Author by reviewing their credentials, their affiliations, as well as the discipline. Just because they have a Phd. in Math does not mean they are qualified to make sociological commentary. Look for signs of expertise and confirm the number of times that the work has been cited by others. Check Places like Who's Who for extra biographical information.
Second: Check the Publisher. Is it a well known source. Most academic universities have their own press houses. Caution: Be wary of vanity presses; they publish for a fee.
Third: Check the sponsor. You can do this by looking at the "About Us" tab.
How timely is the information? What type of information is used as support and when was the information published? Check the editions. How often is the website updated? How stable is the website? Stability is usually tied to sponsorship, so review the type of sponsor.
Citations should be included regarding the source of any information posted on the site. Additionally, the information should be verifiable with other sources and also comprehensive.
The information should not be biased leaning toward one product, or service.
Webpages are stored on servers either in folders or in subfolders. These Web pages are on the World Wide Web ( think library) which is different from the Internet (think Post Office).These pages are then assigned addresses that tell the browsers that you use how to find that particular URL. URLs contain certain components:
http://---this is the protocol used to exchange the information with that address with a browser.
www.pbsc.edu---this is the host name that tells you where the server where that particular file can be found. Notice the edu? This tells you that this is an educational institution.
library/001/--this is the path that to that subfile.
Sometimes the article may have a Document Object Identifier (DOI). This is an initiative by the American Psychological Association to allow access by location of just the DOI. This also makes for easy retrieval.
There are several ways to access good information on the Internet, for instance by using Google Scholar. There are also times when you will need to use the Web to locate the most current information. Under those circumstances try to identify sites that use the following extensions.
We normally use a website that is from as a reliable source as we can locate by using the extension of:
.edu-- this indicates that the site is sponsored or affiliated with an educational institution.
.gov-- this indicates that this is a site sponsored by a government entity.
.org-- this is a site usually sponsored by a non-profit.
.mil--sponsored by the military, but should be evaluated as the military has to out-source many of their needs