English 101 - Arguing a Position: Searching the Web Effectively & Evaluating Websites

Evaluating Websites

 

The web is a great information resource. Because there is so much information you can usually find some information on your topic, however, because anyone can put anything on the web, you need to be very careful when using the web as a research source.

You can use the following checklist to help you to determine the reliability of the information you find on a website:

 

checkACCURACY

  • Is the information reliable and correct?
  • Is there an editor who verifies the information?

AUTHORITY

  • Is there an author? What are his or her qualifications?
  • What is the sponsoring organization? Is it reputable?

Hint: Look for links providing information about the author and his or her e-mail address. Check for "about us," "philosophy," etc. for information about the organization.

checkOBJECTIVITY

  • Does the website show a bias?
  • Is there advertising on the page? 
  • What is the purpose of the site? To sell, to inform, to persuade?

CURRENCY

  • Does the site include the dates it was created and updated?
  • How current are the links? Have any expired or moved?

Consider if currency is especially important for the research topic.

checkCOVERAGE

  • How does the site compare with other sites on this topic?
  • Is material covered in depth rather than superficially?

Debate / Pro & Con Websites

  • idebate.org
  • ProCon.org 
    Coverage of "controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan primarily pro-con format." Areas covered include business, health and medicine, law, politics, religion, science and technology, sex and gender, and sports.
  • Publicagenda.org
    Public Agenda Online provides eighteen issue guides that cover topics such as crime, education, environment, immigration, social security, and welfare. Each issue guide contains an overview of the issue, a news digest of recent stories, background data, various perspectives on the issue, resources for more information, and analyses of related public opinion drawn from major public opinion polls.

Undergraduate Research Engine

The Undergradute Research Engine is a customized Google search that will attempt to limit your web search results to websites that are authoritative sources for college-level work.