Evaluating Internet Sites
- Is the information accurate? Is it reliable and error-free?
- Is there an editor or someone who verifies or checks the information?
- Is there evidence to support the conclusions? Can you find other sources that support the conclusions?
- Do the authors list their sources or references?
- Is there an author? Is the author qualified and credible? An expert in their field?
- Is there a sponsoring organization or institution? Is the sponsor of the page reputable and credible?
- Is there a link to information about the author or the sponsor?
- If the page does not have an author or sponsor, is there any other way to determine its origin?
- Look for a header or footer showing affiliation.
- Look at the URL. (http://www.fbi.gov)
- Look at the domain. (.edu, .com, .gov, .org, .net)
Objectivity (Fairness, with all sides being presented equally)
- What is the purpose of the information? What does the author want to accomplish?
- Does the purpose affect how the information is presented?
- Is the information directed toward a particular audience (general public, scholars, etc.)?
- Is the information biased (show partiality or favoritism toward an idea)? Persuasive?
- Is the information fact or opinion?
- Does the site ask you to donate money or purchase something?
Currency (Being up-to-date)
- Is the information current? Does it need to be current, such as medical information or news items? Is it still valid?
- Is the page dated? If so, when was the last update?
- How current are the links? Have some expired or moved?
- Is there newer information on this topic available from another resource?
Coverage (Important and necessary for your topic)
- What topics are covered? Is the information relevant to your topic and assignment?
- Does this resource give you unique information? What does this page offer that is not found elsewhere?
- How in-depth is the information? Are there other sources that support this information?
Things to Check for:
- Spelling errors and bad grammar
- Important facts that are missing
- Angry, hateful or critical writing
- Information that cannot be proven
- Exaggerations, such as: “Millions of people die…”
- Links that take you nowhere
- Vague statements or generalizations with no facts or sources to back them up
Adapted from: Beck, S. (1997). The good, the bad & the ugly: Or, why it’s a good idea to evaluate web source. https://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction_backup/eval.html; Harris, R.(2007). Evaluating internet research sources. VirtualSalt. http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm; Kresge Engineering Library. (2011). How to evaluate electronic resources. University of California-Berkeley. https://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/evaluating-resources