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It's important to evaluate any information you want to use, but it is especially important to evaluate information from websites. Most web pages do not undergo any editorial review process, and anyone can create a web page.
Evaluating Web Information
When looking at a website, evaluate it using criteria such as:
Purpose & Audience
- Who is the site designed for?
- Is the site scholarly or popular?
- Are there advertisements on the site?
- What is the overall purpose of the site?
Authority & Credibility
- Can the author of the site be identified?
- What are the author's qualifications?
- Is the site affiliated with a particular organization?
- What is the domain of the site (.edu, .gov, .org, .com)?
- Do you think the author has expertise on the subject?
Accuracy & Reliability
- Does the site appear to be well-researched?
- Are there references to the sources of informations supporting the site's statements or viewpoints?
- Does the site include grammatical, spelling, or typographical errors?
- How does the site compare to library resources available on the topic?
Currency & Timeliness
- When was this information published?
- Does the page indicate when it was most recently updated?
- Are there dead links on the page?
Objectivity or Bias
- Does the site present many opinions or just one?
- Can you tell if the site presents mostly opinions or facts?
- Can you identify any bias in the information presented?
- Is the site sponsored by a company or organization?
- If there are advertisements, are they easy to distinguish from the informational content?
Structure & Navigation
- Is the site well organized?
- Is it easy to navigate between different pages on the site?
- Does the site offer a search box?
Finally, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this site a reliable, well-documented information source provided by a reputable author or organization?
- Would this be a good source of information for my assignment?