What kind of information do you need? If you are writing for a class assignment, you may be required to use peer-reviewed ("refereed") or scholarly sources. In any case, you should always look for sources that are authoritative. For more detailed help with evaluating your sources, see our Evaluating Information Guide.
Scholarly Checklist--Look for:
Authoritative--A source can have authority even if it isn't scholarly.
Other Criteria-- these are not definitive, but worthy of consideration:
|Web Search Engines||Library Tools|
|Search the worldwide web; much is unpublished; quality of information varies from one page to the next||Search published materials, selected for scholarliness and high quality|
|Usually no features for saving search results||Researcher tools allow you to save search results, email, print, generate citations, etc.|
|May be difficult to narrow search results to hone in on what you want||Features are available to narrow search results by topic, format, date, etc.|
|Web pages may be "here today, gone tomorrow," information on webpages may change overnight||Published work has stability; publisher takes responsibility for any updates or error correction|
|Social networking (comments on articles, e.g.) allows you to get an idea of the state of current conversation about an issue||Published materials tend to be more static|
|Good for reading news, current events||Good for finding scholarly and authoritative works on a topic|
|Very current information can be found||Publication process takes awhile; information is weeks or months old|