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Biographical Research: Biographical Websites

The Good

While it's not the only online source for biographical information, and perhaps not even the best for everything, is a good source of information on famous individuals.

Don't rely on this as your only source of information, though.  Check the facts against other biographies that you find!

The Bad

OK, so Wikipedia isn't all bad.  In fact, it's quite accurate a lot of the time.

But, the fact that its content is created by members, rather than experts, means that inaccuate information can be unintentionally (or intentionally) added and taken for fact.

So, instead of using the Wikipedia entry, try looking at the sources at the end... THEY might lead you to a credible source of information on your person.

Biographies Online

I probably don't need to tell you that some of what you find online might not be entirely true...

Therefore, I ask that you proceed with caution when using any webpages as sources in your biographical research.  And, by all means, make sure it's ok with your professor beforehand.

With that said, there are some cases when websites may be appropriate resources:

  • Your person has a legitimate personal website that can be verified.
  • The biographical information is posted on a trusted news website or reputable organization site.

This is not always as easy as it sounds.  Some celebrities have fan-created websites that are often mistaken for the real thing.  Or, information is copied and pasted from one site to another without proper attribution... possibly changing certain 'facts' or accidentally leaving things out.

Use the website evaulation criteria on the right whenever considering an online source.  And, if you have questions abouta  site, talk to your professor or see a librarian for guidance.

Web Site Evaluation

While it may seem easier to do a web search for information rather than use a library database, you need to critically evaluate web sites. While there are numerous web pages that describe how to evaluate a web site, here are a few that you may find useful: