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The University of Massachusetts Amherst


A guide to resources in Biology at UMass and beyond.

Helpful Biology Websites

Evaluating Websites

How can you tell whether information you find on the web is accurate? The following criteria can help you with evaluating web resources.

Accuracy: The domain (i.e. .com) can tell you a lot about a website. Sites can be .com (commercial), .edu (academic institutions), .gov (governmental), .mil (military), or .org (organization - usually non-commercial). Of these, .edu and .gov sites are the most trustworthy.

Objectivity: Is the site subjective (opinion-based) or objective (fact-based)?


  • Are the authors trying to sell you something? Convince you of something? Convey factual information?
  • Look for sections like "About Us" or "Mission Statement" to get a better idea of what the site is trying to do.
  • Some websites that appear to be informational and scholarly are actually sneakily trying to sell you something or have a hidden agenda, so you need to play detective and dig for clues about a site's true purpose.

Timeliness: Hunt around for a "last updated" statement. If it's been more than a year or two since the last update, it can be a clue that the site is not maintained very well.

Authority: Can you find out who the author of the content is? If so, is s/he an expert on the subject? Does the author leave contact information?

MORE on Evaluating Web Pages from UC Berkeley

National Library of Medicine's Selection Guidelines for Non-National Library of Medicine Resources

Science News

From a few selected life science blogs.
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Community and Citizen Science

Whether it's in class or on your own, community and citizen science projects are a way that anyone can contribute to real research, right now.  Most projects can be done online and offer instructions and tutorials to get you started.  Others involve more hands-on effort, such as taking samples and mailing them somewhere or getting outside and recording observations of nature.  Explore the links below to find a project that catches your interest!