Criteria for Evaluating Web Sources

Criteria for Evaluating Web Sources
1. Accuracy
A high quality web site source contains
accurate information that can be verified by
other sources. The information should be
free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation
mistakes. There should be evidence of an
editor or fact checker who is responsible for
making sure that the information is correct.
2. Authority
It should be clear who the author is and what
credentials he/she has. If the author is an
expert or has higher credentials, the
information is more likely to be useful.
There should be an email address listed or
other contact information. If the page is
anonymous, there is no one to hold
accountable for erroneous information.
Pay attention to where the document was
published. Information published at .edu,
.org, or .gov sites is usually preferred to
information from .com sites since it was most
likely published by a school or organization
rather than a business.
Find out who sponsored the Web site and
who the advertisers are. The credibility of the
sponsor may reveal something about the
quality of the information presented.
3. Objectivity
An objective source will contain more quality
information than a heavily biased source.
When viewing a Web site, notice any explicit
or implied biases. If the page is an
advertisement or endorsement, there may be
financial motivations to provide biased
information. The advertising should be
clearly differentiated from the informational
content of the site. It should be clear why
the site was created and for whom.
4. Currency
The accuracy of an information source is
often influenced by how recently it was
created. For topics such as technology,
science, and medicine it is especially
important to have current information. To
avoid outdated information, find out when
the page was created and how often it is
updated. Look for the date of the last
revision. Check the links -- often older Web
sites have links that have expired or whose
targets have moved.
5. Coverage
It is important to consider the level of
information coverage a Web site
contains. The purpose and scope of the Web
site should be specific and well defined. The
most useful Web sites cover a variety of
topics and/or cover a topic in-depth. A site
index, site map, or FAQ should be provided
to help navigate the site and give the user
some idea of the extent of the site's
coverage. A quality Web site is highly
interactive and will offer users services and
information not found elsewhere. It is
important that information be cited correctly
and permission and/or licensing be obtained
for the use of copyrighted images and
multimedia materials. The information
should be free of charge.
Handout from: .
TRIO ThinkQuest: Web Site Assessment and Evaluation
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Writing Center