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Evaluating Websites  

Last Updated: Jul 16, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Traditional Standards for Evaluating Print Resources


How reliable and free from error is the information?

Are there editors and fact checkers?


What are the author's qualifications for writing on the subject?

How reputable is the publisher?


Is the information free from bias?

Is the author openly trying to sway opinion, or to advocate for a position?


Is the contect of the work up-to-date?

Is the publication date clearly noted?


Is a range of topics included in the work?

Are the topics explored in any depth?  


Evaluating Web Recources

General Information to Consider

What is the document's URL?

What is the document's domain?  (for example:  .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .net, org)

Who is the author of the document?

What "type" of document is it?


Who is the intended audience for this document?

What does the purpose of the document seem to be (e.g., inform, persuade, entertain)?

How can you tell (on what basis did you come to the above conclusions)?


Does the author list his or her credentials for writing on the topic?

Is there a link from the document to a "Parent institution" that might sugggest some measure of oversight over the content?

Is there a non-web version of the material that might allow you to verify its legitimacy?


Does the document include a list of sources consulted which you might use to verify accuracy?

Is it clear who has ultimate responsibility for the accuracy of the document's content?


Is there a statement or other evidence to suggest that the document has the official approval of a sponsoring institution?

Does the author's affiliation with this institution suggest any possible bias?



Pitfalls of Web Resources

Lack of Filtering

The majority of Web documents are not subjected to any kind of selection process.

The filtering that does exist may often be highly subjective.

Lack of Editorial Oversight

The majority of Web documents are mounted independently, without benefit of editorial oversight or fact-checking (web-based information my or may not be accurate).

Ambiguous Authority

Anyone can publish on the web.

Responsibility for authorship is not always apparent.

Author's qualifications for writing on a subject are often absent.

Lack of Objectivity

There are many types of Web documents (news, marketing, government, educational, personal, etc.) and they all look largely alike but there are varying standards for objectivity.

Many Web documents blend fact, opinion, entertainment and advertising into a seamless whole.


Dates are not always included on Web documents.

When included, dates may be ambiguous (e.g., date of creation vs. date of last update).

Inconsistency and Instability of Web Resources

Not all Web documents are of equal quality (each must be evaluated independently).

Web documents can be altered without notice.

Web documents can disappear and be unavailable for later review.




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