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History 112 - Since 1865 - Spring 2015

Evaluating Websites

World Wide Web

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?

Academic Subject Directories

These are collections of websites that are created and maintained by librarians to support the needs of researchers. These are helpful because they serve a quality control function by listing only credible websites.

Primary Sources