Guide to Evaluating Websites

For more help, try the library’s tutorial on Evaluating the Internet.

Evaluate a site’s: Ask yourself: You need to:
Accuracy
  • Who wrote the page and can you contact him or her?
  • What is the purpose of the document and why was it produced?
  • Is this person qualified to write this document?
  • Make sure author provides e-mail or a contact address/phone number.
  • Know the distinction between author and Webmaster.
Authority
  • Who published the document and is it separate from the “Webmaster”?
  • Check the domain of the document, what institution publishes this document?
  • Does the Publisher list his or her qualifications?
  • Find the credentials listed for the author(s).
  • Find where the document was published. (HINT: Check URL domain.)
Bias
  • What goals/objectives does this page meet?
  • How detailed is the information?
  • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
  • How is the information presented?
  • Determine if page is a mask for advertising; if so information might be biased.
  • View any Web page as you would an infomercial on television. Ask yourself why was this written and for whom?
Currency
  • When was it produced?
  • When was it updated?
  • How up-to-date are the links (if any)?
  • Determine how many dead links are on the page.
  • Determine if the links are current or updated regularly.
  • Determine if the information on the page is outdated.
Content
  • Are the links (if any) evaluated and do they complement the documents’ theme?
  • Is it all images or a balance of text and images?
  • Is the information presented cited correctly?
  • If page requires special software to view the information, know how much you are missing if you don’t have the software.
  • Determine if the site is free, or if it has a fee to obtain the information.
  • Determine if there is an option for text only, or frames, or suggested browser for better viewing.

Putting it all together

  • Accuracy: If your page lists the author and institution that published the page and provides a way of contacting him/her, and…
  • Authority: If your page lists the author credentials and its domain is preferred (.edu, .gov, .org, or .net), and…
  • Bias: If your page provides accurate information with limited advertising and it is objective in presenting the information, and…
  • Currency: If your page is current and updated regularly(as stated on the page) and the links (if any) are also up-to-date, and…
  • Content: If you can view the information properly-not limited to fees, browser technology, or software requirement, then…

You may have a higher quality Web page that could be of value to your research!

Table courtesy of Jim Kapoun, Southwest State University
Table modified by Christina Connor, Ramapo College of NJ, June 2008

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