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Evaluating Websites: The Basics

Why Evaluate Resources?

In today's Information Age, one can find a wealth of information on almost any topic. 

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 found it on the internet, so it must be true."

"All websites are professional and of the highest quality."

Unlike articles that appear in periodicals or materials that the LLRC (Library and Learning Resource Center) owns, many items appearing on the World Wide Web are not "filtered" or reviewed by editors or authorities on the subject before publication. That means anyone anywhere can put anything on the Internet.

We Wish It Was This Easy


SPIN!

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

Accuracy

  • 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

Authority

  • 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 his or her qualifications?
  • What credentials are listed for the author(s)?
  • Where is the document published?  Check URL domain (.edu, .com, .gov, .org)

Objectivity

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

Currency

  • 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  • Is the information on the page outdated?

Coverage

  • 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 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!

 

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Check Lists!

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

When in Doubt,

Used with Creative Commons Permission

Visit a librarian in the library for one-on-one help

Email: reference@norcocollege.edu

Call: (951) 372-7115. 

Chat with a Librarian online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Video on Evaluating Websites