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Molecular and Cell Biology Library Guide: Evaluating websites

How to find information - a library guide for Molecular and Cell Biology students and academics at UCT.

Internet Resources

A large amount of information that may be of interest to molecular and cell biology is available on the internet. There is a list of subject specific sites for molecular & cell biology. When using the internet resources, you need to be cautious, as most websites do not undergo peer review. It is therefore important to evaluate the website that you get your information from.

Searching the Internet

For tips on searching the internet, try this website:

Evaluating a web site

How does one evaluate a website? How does one make sure that the website one is getting information from is reliable, authoritative, accurate, objective or current? Find the answers to these and other questions from the following sites:

"Invisible" or "Deep" Web searching

There is a vast amount of information on the world wide web that cannot be found using general purpose search engines like Google. General purpose search engines provide only the tip of the iceberg of what is available on the web. There are alternatives to general purpose search engines:

  • Subject Specific Search Engines - see link Science below.
  • Subject Directories - see links to INFOMINE, Librarians Internet Index and DMOZ below.
  • Search Engines that will search the invisible web - see link to CompletePlanet below.
  • Semantic Search Engines - See link to Wolfram Alpha below.

How to conduct research

There are also websites that can assist you in doing your research.  The following website provides a step-by-step guide into how to conduct your research, from choosing a topic to writing up your work:

Work SMART

Always evaluate the information you read. Be particularly careful when consulting Wikipedia and similar internet sites as the authority and reliability of the content cannot be guaranteed. Remember to work SMART:

Source - is the source well known, reliable, up to date?

Motivation - why does this site exist? Are they selling a product? Supporting a particular lobby?

Authority - is the author's name on the page? Is the author well known in the field?

Review - has the information been reviewed/checked by others working in the field?

Two sources - is the information supported by other reliable sources?

The databases we subscribe to generally index articles that have been peer reviewed by experts in the field before being accepted for publication.