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Web Savvy -- General Guide: Publishers and References

A multi-page tutorial on evaluating web sites, for beginners and those who think they know.

Web Savvy -- Page 5 -- Publishers and References

Besides looking at the author, how else do you know that a web page's content is reliable?

Look at who published it and at the page itself.

bright red burst Is the page an article from a scholarly journal that publishes online? Though most scholarly journals have paywalls due to copyright, some journals are available through Highwire, Directory of Open Access Journals,, or Biomedcentral are freely available. Scholarly journals also sometimes appear as preprints or reprints on individual professors' web sites.

bright red burst Is the page part of a well known magazine, wire service, major newspaper, or broadcast service' web site, such as CNN, the BBC, Time, Newsweek, or the New York Times? Such organizations have reputations to protect and practice quality control.

bright red burst Is the page an official government or organization's web site and does that organization provide "real life" contact information and its leaders' last names?

If you have trouble finding a publisher's name or contact informtion, look for an About, Contact link. If a publisher does not offer contact information, then consider NOT using the web site in your research.

If the web page takes the form of a paper or mentions the works of others, does it have a Works Cited, Bibliography, or Reference List at the end? If any web page mentions or uses others' works without give them credit, this is a very bad sign.

If you encounter an organization or publisher that you do not recognize or that you think is questionable, please ask a librarian or faculty member to view the web page.

Now let's look at some web pages and their publishers...

Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)
Click on this thumbnail to see an organization that provides important staff's last names and a physical address.

Moms Across America
Click on this thumbnail to see a site by an organization that does not give key members' last names, and has no physical address.