Questions to Consider

Web sites will cover all kinds of information: primary and secondary, scholarly and popular, truth and fiction. Therefore, it is important that you know the methods for analyzing Web sites to decide which information is reliable and appropriate.

Ask these evaluation questions in order to think critically about information on the Internet:

Authority:

  • Who is the author or contact person?
  • What is the affiliation of the author?
  • What are the author's credentials?
  • If no author is listed, is the information published by a reputable source such as a non-profit organization, government agency or university?
  • In your opinion, is the organization an authority on the subject matter on the web site?
HINT: Often you can find the name of the Author in the footer. The sponsoring organization can be found by following a link to the local home page. If the link exists, it is often in the header or the footer of the Web page.
Accuracy:
  • Is the information accurate? Can you verify that the information is factual?
  • Are the sources cited and credited? If the resource is a paper, is there a bibliography?
  • Can you check certain facts? For example, have you seen conflicting information from another source?
  • Is the information objective, or does it present a political or cultural bias?
Timeliness:
  • Is there a date associated with the information?
  • Is the information kept up-to-date?
Purpose:
  • What is the purpose of this Web site?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Does the information inform, explain, or persuade?
  • Is the site trying to sell you something?
Scope
  • Is there comprehensive coverage of your issue or topic?
  • How does the Web resource compare to scholarly resources available to you?
Format:
  • Is the site well organized and usable?