How to Find Reliable Internet Sources

So much of reliable sources in internet searches is the same as researching in the library. Pick:

  • primary sources
  • unbiased sources
  • sources with the background and training required to understand and present information

Young students have difficulty with these rules. They work hard just to maneuver through a search engine, the links, the search bar and the address bar. They’re thrilled when they get hits, much less trying to distinguish what’s good from bad. How do they know if it’s a ‘primary source’ or not? How can they determine what’s ‘biased’ or not? Or who has enough training to be trusted?Wikipedia is a great example. It’s edited by the People, not PhDs, encyclopedias or primary sources, yet it usually pops up pretty close to the top of a search list and lots of kids think it’s the last word in reliability.

With that in mind, I’ve made the rules simple: Look at the extension. Start with that limitor. Here are the most popular extensions and how I rate them for usefulness:

.gov

Published by the government and non-military. As such, it should be unbiased, reliable.

.mil

Published by the government and military. Perfect for the topics that fit this category, i.e., wars, economics, etc.

.edu

Published by colleges and universities. Historically, focused on research, study, and education

.org

U.S. non-profit organizations and others. They have a bias, but it shouldn’t be motivated by money

These four are the most trustworthy. The next three take subjective interpretation and a cursory investigation into their information:

.net

networks, internet service providers, organizations–traditionally. Pretty much anyone can purchase a .net now

.com

commercial site. Their goal is to sell something to you, so they are unabashedly biased. If you’re careful, you’ll still find good information here

.au, etc.

These are foreign sites. Perfect for international and cultural research, but they will retain their nation’s bias and interpretation of events, just as American sites have ours.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.