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Martha S. Grafton Library

Research 101

Evaluating Web Sources:

 

Authorship

  • Who is responsible for the website?
  • Who created the content on the page?
    • Are qualified to write about the topic? Do they have advanced degrees? 

Look for the About, About Us, Background, etc. Look for the name or organization responsible for the page. If the creator is unclear, think carefully before using the page as a source.

Use the URL as a guide:

  • .org= Advocacy. The primary purpose of this page is to influence public opinion. Beware of biases and opinions.
  • .com= Business, entertainment, news. Their purposes is promote services, sell products, and provide entertainment.
  • .gov= These are government websites. Provide factual information such as government data or research reports.
  • .edu= informational, educational. The primary purpose of these pages is to provide information about or by educational
    institutions.

When in doubt about quality, stick to sites with .edu and .gov, since they are generally more reliable.  

Purpose and Objectivity

  • Are there obvious biases or opinions in the information?
    •  Don't discount a website because of biases, but be aware that important facts and alternate perspectives are likely missing.
  • Is the purpose of the website clearly stated?
    • Check the About Us/About pages for information on the website's mission

Content and Coverage 

  • Are there references listed? Are theses sources reliable?
  • Is the information based on research/documentation?
    • Who did the research? Are they credible?
  • Is the information reproduced from another publication?
    • If so, does the site link to the original? If the reproduction is retyped, it could have been altered intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Is the site free of grammatical and spelling errors?

Currency

  • When was the website last updated?
    • The dates are usually at the bottom of a web page.
    • Sites may become quickly outdated, especially topics dealing with science and current events
  • DO NOT use statistics if there is no date associated with them. Statistics are very time sensitive, and easily made up!

Other Web Evaluation Sites

Printable handout version

This a print-handout version of everything that will be discussed in this section on evaluating web sources.