Evaluating Web Sites

When doing research, we should evalute all sources before using them in our work, but it is especially important to evaluate websites. Anyone can publish anything on the web, which means that we have to apply a critical eye to every web page to make sure it is a reliable source.

Use the following criteria:

Authority:

  • Who is responsible and what makes them an authority on this subject? (Are they accredited or endorsed by a reputable organization? Do they cite their experience/credentials?)
  • Does the article contains footnotes?
  • Does material copied from other sources appear to be fully credited?

Scope:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What time period is covered? What geographic area?
  • Is there a cultural bias?
  • Is this information a subset of a more comprehensive source? If so, who abridged it, and why?

Currency:

  • What is the date on the web page?
  • How frequently is it updated?
  • Is some of the information obviously out of date?

Accuracy:

  • Are the facts that are known to you reliable? Can they be verified?
  • Is the coverage objective? If not, is the bias clearly stated?

Commercialism:

  • Is the presenter selling something (a product or an idea)?
  • Does the page have a corporate sponsor?
  • Do you have to enter personal information in order to proceed?


Adapted from a guide by Angelynn King, University of Redlands

Last updated October 13, 2006

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