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  Evaluating Web Sites

If you would like to cite web pages in your research project, it's important to check it out for credibility. After all, not all web pages are created equal.

Initial criteria to consider:
  1. Style and Currency
    • Are links current? A series of broken links is a sure sign of an out-of-date page.
    • Does the page look current, in terms of web design and style? Of course, basic pages can contain good research, but if a site looks amateurish or badly organized, you should double check the information.
    • Is the page recently updated?

  2. Authorship
    • Most importantly, can you find an author associated with the page? Remember, a "web master" is not the same thing as an author.
    • What are the author's credentials? Are they relevant to the page you are using?
    • Does the author include contact information? Could you email him or her?
    • Who does the web site belong to? An author is not always the domain holder. Is it a school, institute, or organization? What kind?
    Note: Domain names sometimes aren't enough to guarantee credibility. For example, colleges and universities often grant web space to all members of the community, so you cannot guess that any page ending in .EDU was created or is maintained by an expert.

  3. Purpose/Audience
    • Take a moment to consider the purpose of a site. Is it to entertain? To inform? To convince?
    • For whom was the page created?
    Note: Don't neglect to consider page setup and writing style as possible indicators. For example, a page with long blocks of text has a different intended audience than a page that communicates through short sentences and images.

  4. Objectivity
    • Is the page objective? Does the author seem to hold a bias?
    • If so, consider whether that bias has an effect on the information as a whole. Do you consider the page's treatment of the subject fair?