Evaluating Web Sites

When you visit an academic library, the books, journals, and other resources have already been evaluated by scholars, publishers, and librarians. Every resource in the library has been evaluated, in some form, before you see it. When you are using the World Wide Web, none of this applies. The following questions are useful in evaluating Web sites:

Authority

  • Is the author identifiable?
  • What is the author's background (experience, credentials, other publications, etc.)?
  • Is the domain extension (.edu, .gov, .org, etc.) appropriate for this content?

Accuracy and reliability

  • Has research been properly documented and cited?
  • Are there grammatical errors?
  • How long has the site been around? (Use the Internet Archive to find out)

Purpose and objectivity

  • What is the motivation for this site (educational, promotional, entertainment, etc.)?
  • Is the site trying to sell you something?
  • Is there a clear distinction between opinion and fact?

Coverage

  • Does the site cover a specific time period?
  • What information is included? Omitted?
  • Is the page "under construction"?

Currency - is it still relevant?

  • When was the site last updated or revised?
  • How often is the content updated?
  • Are there any dead links?