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Education Resources: How to evaluate websites

Evaluating Websites

We all love the Internet.  It is accessible, convenient and fast.  Though the Internet provides a lot of information on almost anything you can think of, it may not be quite so easy to verify and evaluate that information.  If you are going to use the Internet as your main source for information, beware!  Remember, anyone can publish information on the Internet.

To help determine if you are looking at credible, quality information whether it be online or in a book or magazine, consider the "Five Ws" Who, What, When, Where and Why.  If you can't find the answers to these questions then it may be best to look for another source.                          

CURRENCY: the timeliness of the information

Ask yourself:

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?
RELEVANCE: the importance of the information for your needs

Ask yourself:

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (not too basic or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the best one to use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
AUTHORITY: the source of the information

Ask yourself:

  • Who is the author/source/publisher?
  • Are the author's credentials given?
  • Is the author qualified to write on this topic?
  • Is there contact information, address, or email?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the source or author? (.com .edu .gov .org)
ACCURACY: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

Ask yourself:

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or by your own knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased?
  • Are there spelling, grammatical or typographical errors?
PURPOSE: the reason the information exists

Ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of the information?  to inform? to teach? to sell? to persuade?  What is the Domain?
  • Does the author make his/her intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?


Evaluate These Websites

Work in groups for this activity.  Click on the links to the websites below.  Take a look at each website.  Use the following criteria to evaluate the sites.

Ask Yourself.....

Who is the author?  Are they reputable?

Who is the audience?  Is the information biased?

Is the information true?  Can you find this information elsewhere?

When was the site last updated? 



Would you use these sites as sources for a research paper?

  Search By Domain

The domain name is an indicator of the sponsoring organization of a particular website

.gov Government: The purpose is generally to inform, to post public documents, and to present research findings or statistics.

.edu Education: The purpose is typically to teach, inform, or present research.

(Note: Remember that as students and faculty we are all given web space to publish any information we choose! Be mindful of .edu)

.org Organization: The purpose may be to inform or present research, but it is frequently to sway opinion or recruit support.

.com Commercial: The purpose is usually to sell or promote a company, product or service

.net Network: The purpose is normally to provide services to organizations, both private and commercial, as well as to individuals.

Google Advanced Search

One way to effectively search the Internet is to use Google Advanced Search (click on this link).  

Or access the Advanced Search by typing in , then type in your search terms and hit Enter or Search.  At the bottom of your results screen you will see the words Advanced Search.  Click there.  That will take you to the Advanced Search page.  From there you can type in what domain you want to search.  Ex: .gov, .edu for the most credible websites.