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Fashion Design & Merchandising Library Research Guide: Fashion on the Web

Guide to selected UH Manoa Library and Web resources for study and research in FDM

Selected Web Resources

Evaluating Web Sites

Publishing on the Web is very different than publishing in print — the traditional medium for scientific literature. Anyone can publish a Web page without anyone evaluating the accuracy or quality of the information. Reviews by peers, reviewers, editors, and publishers are not often applied to Web sites.

The sole responsibility for evaluating the scholarly content of a Web site rests with the Web site user.

Traditional evaluation criteria used for print resources and Web specific criteria are both useful as indicators of quality and should considered when examining Web sites.

Evaluation Criteria 

1.     Authorship: Is the author identified? What are the author’s credentials? For example, does the site include the author's position and institutional affiliation? Is the URL for an educational institution (.edu) or government agency (.gov)?

2.    Accuracy: Can the data be verified from other sources? Does the author have an obvious bias?

3.    Audience: Is the site intended for scholars or professionals, for lay people, or for students?

4.    Currency: Does the Web site include the date it was created and/or updated? Are the links current?

5.    Coverage: Does the site state its intended scope? Is it designed to cover an entire subject, or to give detailed information on one aspect?

6.    Relative Value: How does it compare to other sources of similar information? Are there other more accurate or complete sources - possibly in print format?

Scholarly vs. Popular Resources

In academic research, it is important to learn how to distinguish between scholarly and popular (non-scholarly) sources.  While one can argue the value of both types of sources, the scholarly sources are the ones that are usually preferred when doing academic research.

The following is a table comparing the general features of these two types of sources:

Type of Source

Scholarly Sources

Popular Sources


In-Depth, Original Research

 Usually undergoes peer-review process (see Peer Review for more)

Current Events, Popular Topics, Interviews



Experts in the Field (e.g., professors, researchers, etc.)

Experts in the subject they are writing about.

Journalists or Freelance Writers

May or may not be subject experts in what they are writing about.

Writing Level

Technical language that assumes some level of college education.

Simple language

Works Cited

Almost always has some kind of Works Cited or Reference list to back up what they are writing.

Rarely documents sources used.


Journal of the American Medical Association
Pacific Science  

PC World
Honolulu Star-Advertiser