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last updated: 4/4/2013

Evaluating Web Sites


Since almost anything can be put online, it is necessary to critically evaluate the information you find on the web. Web sites are often a blend of information, entertainment and advertising.


Authorship

  • Does the site have an author?

  • What are the author’s qualifications or expertise in the area?

  • Is the contact information for the author or the sponsor/publisher given?

  • What is the relationship between the author and the sponsoring institution?

Accuracy

  • Is the information accurate?

  • Has the information been edited/fact-checked?

  • Is the information verifiable?

  • Does the site document the sources used?

  • If the information is historical or biographical, are the dates of events accurate?

  • How does the information compare with what you already know?

Currency

  • Is the site up-to-date?

  • When was the information created or last updated?

  • Are the links expired or current?

Point of View

  • Whose point of view/perspective is given?

  • Is the author simply promoting an agenda?

  • To what extent is the information trying to sway the opinion of the audience?

  • Is there advertising on the page?


After applying the guidelines, ask yourself whether the document or site is appropriate for your research.


What is the purpose of the Web site?

Do a quick scan of the site. Can you determine its general purpose? Is it meant to:

  • INFORM
    e.g., about current events, new information, etc.

  • EXPLAIN
    e.g., teach, instruct, etc.

  • PERSUADE
    e.g., change your mind, sell you something, etc.


    Who is the intended audience?

    The domain name and the source of the URL web address of the page will indicate the site’s intended audience. Knowing this provides clues as to the site’s value and reliability.


    Most common domain names

    Domain Meaning Example
    .edu created at a college or university www.indiana.edu
    .gov created by an official U.S. federal agency or office www.federalreserve.gov
    .org varies - in most cases the site was created by a nonprofit organization or an individual www.npr.org
    .com varies - in most cases the site was created by a for-profit organization www.amazon.com
    .net varies greatly - often indicates that the site was created by a person, group, etc. that uses an Internet service provider www.earthlink.net
    .mil created by the U.S. military www.usmc.mil
    .in.us created by state-supported institution of Indiana - the .us domain requires a state code as a second level domain www.monroe.lib.in.us


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  • last updated: 4/4/2013