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Research: Website Evaluation

The Internet

The Internet is a rich source of information -- and a prolific dispenser of misinformation. 

Evaluating a Website

some things to look for

Taken from "Education World" , Robert Harris, a professor of English at Southern California College suggests students look at:

  • type -- and determine whether the URL includes .gov (government), .edu or .ac (educational/academic), .com (commercial), .org (nonprofit organization), or .~ (personal page).
  • publisher -- and determine whether the organization, agency,s school, business, or individual maintaining the site is likely to have a particular agenda or bias.
  • author -- and determine the author's education, training, and background to find out whether he or she is a trained expert, an experienced enthusiast, or an uninformed observer.
  • structure -- and determine whether the format is clear, logical, and easily navigable.
  • language -- and determine whether the text contains emotional, inflammatory, profane, or confusing language. Count the number of spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors. Too many mistakes can indicate carelessness and suggest informational errors as well.
  • dates -- and determine when the information was published and/or updated. If possible, check the publication dates of supporting data.
  • graphics -- and determine whether images and animations take up a disproportionate amount of space in relation to their informational value. Decide whether the graphics convey information, add interest, provide interactivity, or simply distract.
  • links -- and determine whether the site's bibliography and/or links contain both supportive and contradictory information.




Relevancy Is the information relevant to the question at hand? Am I on the right track?
Appropriateness Is the information suitable to my age and core values?
Detail How much information do I need? Is the depth of coverage adequate?
Currency When was the information published or last updated?
Authority Who is the author of the information? What are his or her qualifications?
Bias Why was this information written? Was it written to inform me, persuade me, entertain me, or sell me something?

Evaluating Websites as Information Sources

Citing a website

Citing a Web Site

When citing something from the free Internet in Noodle Tools, please remember the difference between a Web site and a Web page.  If you performed a search through a search engine, chances are you are looking at and citing a page from a larger Web site

To find the name of the Web site, truncate the URL by highlighting all characters after the .com or .net or .org, then press the 'enter' key.  The title of the Web site will be on their home page. 

Chances are, if you could not find an author, editor, publisher of the site and/or publication date on the page you're citing, you'll find them here on the home page.  Sometimes to find all the information, you may need to go to the 'contact us' or 'about' sections of the site. 

Remember, if ANYONE, can find the information on the page or site, you MUST include it in your citation.

Who's behind the website?

How current is the website?