Criteria for evaluating websites

Uploaded by svong1 on 19.06.2011

Welcome to tips and tricks for research! My name is Silvia and I’m a librarian, I can
show you a few things that may help with your research. In this video tutorial I’ll outline
some important things to keep in mind when you are evaluating a website or web page.
To Google or not to Google, that is the question. Okay, let’s get real here. It’s just easier
to find things online! And in some cases, some professors will let you use one internet
resource. So in the case it’s the night before the essay is due and you want to use
one Internet resource for your paper, here’s what you can watch out for, so you don’t
use a website with bad information! Use the following criteria: Check for the Authority,
Accuracy, Currency, Objectivity and Coverage. When looking at websites, the first thing
you should look for is the authority. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of the website?
Try to find an “About” page to learn more about the purpose of the site or organization.
Also ask, is it a personal website or an organizational website? A personal website may need a closer
look. Look at the credentials or information about the author or authors of site. A professor
in sociology that discusses the culture and impact of social media will be more credible
than a teenager’s blog on why social media is awesome. Also ask, what’s the URL? You
can also look at the URL as well to understand the purpose of the website. For example, a
URL with is a Canadian federal government website, .gov is usually used by the provincial
government, .com usually indicated a commercial nature, so be sure to be a bit more discerning
when reviewing content on this type of site. .Org is usually used for non profit organizations
such as the United Nations. In the U.S., .edu is usually used for educational institutions.
Another criterion to consider is the accuracy of the information. Ask yourself, is the information
right? Of course, it’s always hard to tell if you don’t know much about the topic,
but here’s how you can verify that information. Look at the course readings and texts and
verify basic information. For example, I found a website that discusses botulism. It writes
that there are four types. When I refer to the course assigned readings and compare the
information, I see that the information is correct. The other criteria is the currency,
try to find a date on the website to see if the site has been updated. A site that has
not been updated for 5 years, is most likely not monitored or an abandoned site. For example,
this website shows that even though it was created in 2001, it was reviewed in 2006.
The other important criterion is objectivity. Ask yourself, does the writing sound biased?
Are there advertisements? If the writing seems informal or opinionated, then chances are,
the content may be inaccurate or may provide a biased review on the topic. For example,
this website that discusses why the iPhone is better than Android and the blackberry
has an ad promoting Apple products. The article doesn’t look at specs or discusses the actual
product. Finally, look at the coverage. Ask yourself, how much detail is there in the
content? Does the writer go in depth and provide facts and references? Does the content generalize
or go into specifics? If the site touches on the topic lightly and doesn’t elaborate
on points or statements with facts or references, it could be an indication that you should
look at the site with a more discerning eye. So let’s do a recap, when evaluating a website,
look for the authority of the site, check for accuracy of the information, make sure
the content is current, the writer is being objective and ensure that the content has
evidence or detail to support statements. If you need more help, feel free to contact
a librarian at your university, they are more than happy to help!