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BIO 120: Adaptation and Biodiversity

This guide will assist BIO 120 students, as well as other biology students, when starting to look for and gather research for papers and assignments.

Using Web Pages in BIO 120

For your BIO 120 proposal, you can use the internet for preliminary research on your species. This means that you can search the internet to find out more about your species. However, you cannot cite web pages in your proposal. All the information you cite in your proposal must come from journal articles, books, or other scholarly sources.


starting line

Wikipedia is a great resource, especially when you are just getting started on research. You will generally find a complete and well-cited overview of the topic. However, since anyone can add to Wikipedia, it is not 100% trustworthy.

As you are doing your research, use Wikipedia to help you find sources and understand what to look for - in other words, use it as a starting point for your research, but do not cite Wikipedia itself.

Why can't I just Google?

Evaluating Information from the Web

Consider these criteria when looking for information on web sites:


Is the information factual, not opinion?

How valid is the research that is the source?

Is the site free of errors in spelling or grammar and other signs of carelessness in its presentation of the material?


Is the author's name given?

Are her/his qualifications specified?

Is the author affiliated with a reputable institution or organization?

Has the author written elsewhere on this topic?

If this is an organization or business website, are they qualified to speak on this topic?

Are additional electronic and print sources referenced to complement or support the material presented?


Is the information factual, not opinion?

Where arguments are given, are they based on strong evidence and good logic?

Is the author's point of view impartial and objective?

Is the author's language free of emotion and bias?

Audience level

What audience is the Web site designed for?

Is it too basic or too technical for your needs?


Is this web site current?

Is the date of the most recent update given?

If this is a book or article, how old is the information?

Evaluating Websites (Video)