Evaluating Web Sites

Learn to be critical thinkers. When conducting research on the World Wide Web, evaluate the sites you are viewing using the following criteria:
  • Accuracy - Anyone can publish information on the web. The information may or may not be accurate. Most web sites are not verified by editors and fact checkers. Look for e-mail, contact address and phone numbers. You want to find out if the author is qualified to write the web page.
  • Authority - Web sites should enable the researcher to find out about the authors. Look for names, where they work, credentials, addresses, and e-mail addresses. Look for the URL domain. Is the author affiliated with an educational institution (edu), a government agency (gov), an organization (org), or a commercial site (com)? Do the authors/publishers list their qualifications?
  • Objectivity - Are the goals and aims of the persons or groups responsible for the web site clearly stated? Is the group/person/organization legitimate? Some sites are thinly disguised commercials or opinion pages. Does the author express his/her opinions? Ask yourself why the page was written and for whom.
  • Currency - Dates are not usually included on web pages. Check for dead links and outdated information. If you see a date listed, it may be the date of posting or the date of revision.
  • Coverage - Are you getting all the information this site has to offer? Do you need specialized software to access the information? Are you required to pay a fee to access the information? Is the content of the web page balanced with text and graphics? Are links relevant to the document's content? Good web sites should contain a statement explaining or summarizing topics covered on the site.
Last Update: December 28 2012
For additional information, contact: Marilyn Haney