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Evaluating Websites: The Basics


Words and images available on the internet can be spun to manipulate the way you see the information.  Be careful to fully evaluate any information you get for credibility.

Check Lists

Make sure you've looked at all the relevant criteria with these handy dandy checklists!

Why Evaluate Resources?


Anyone can find a wealth of information on almost any topic on the internet. 

The challenge is to sift through a huge amount of information and identify sources that are not only appropriate but also reliable. 


Here are some myths about websites and the internet:

"I researched it online, so it must be true."

"if a website looks good, the information must be of the highest quality."


Unlike articles from the Norco College Library Databases, many items appearing on the internet are not "filtered" or reviewed by editors or authorities before publication. That means anyone anywhere can put anything on the Internet.


  • Who wrote the page?
  • What is the purpose of the website, and why was it produced?
  • Is the author qualified to write about this subject?
  • Make sure the author provides e-mail or a contact address/phone number.
  • Know the distinction between author and website creator


  • Who published the document? (click on the “about us” link if there is one)
  • Check the domain of the document; what institution publishes this document?
  • Does the publisher list their qualifications?
  • What credentials are listed for the author(s)?
  • Where is the document published?  Check URL domain (.edu, .com, .gov, .org)


  • What goals/objectives does this page meet?
  • How detailed is the information?
  • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
  • Is the page a mask for advertising: if so, information might be biased.
  • View any Web page as you would an infomercial on television.  Ask yourself why this was written and for whom?


  • When was it produced?
  • When was it updated?
  • How up-to-date are the links (if any)?
  • How many dead links are on the page?
  • Are the links current or updated regularly?
  • Is the information on the page outdated?


  • Are the links (if any) evaluated, and do they complement the document's theme?
  • Is it all images or a balance of text and images?
  • Is the information presented cited correctly?
  • If the page requires special software to view the information, how much are you missing if you don’t have the software?
  • Is it free, or is there a fee, to obtain the information?
  • Is there an option for text only, or frames, or is a 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's credentials and its domain is preferred (.edu, or .gov), and…
Objectivity.  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…
Coverage.  If you can view the information properly—not limited to fees, browser technology, or software requirement, then…

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