Evaluating Websites

Related Links

Using Websites As Sources

  • Can you trust the Web pages that you find on the Internet?
  • Are they appropriate resources for your research paper?
Criteria
Questions to Ask
Where to look for the answers
1. AUTHORITY / RESPONSIBILITY Who is the author of the page? Is it an individual or a group? What are the author's qualifications to speak on this issue? Look for authorship, responsible party information in:
  • top & side navigation bars
  • page headers, footers
2. PURPOSE How would you describe the content of the page? What is the purpose of the page? (To entertain? To inform? To persuade? To deceive?) Read "About." links or look for mission statements to determine the purpose of the site.
3. CURRENCY When was the page last updated? Do the links work? Look for evidence of currency by checking the footer for last update.
4. OBJECTIVITY How objectively is the content presented? Is more than one side given?
  • Check out bias, advocacy
  • Examine the URL:
    • .com usually means selling you something is the bottom line
    • .org can signal advocacy for a cause
    • ~ in the address commonly signifies a personal page
    • .gov or .edu are generally more authoritative sites, but examine any site closely
5. ACCURACY Are there any misspellings or errors on the page? Examine the body of the page for
  • typos or other mistakes that can indicate whether or not the content is reliable
  • sources or footnotes for any statistics or facts presented
6. APPROPRIATENESS Would this page be an appropriate source for a research paper? Why or why not? Do your answers to the questions above add up to a good source?