Evaluating Web Content and Sources
Using Internet Search Technologies


The Internet is an incredible resource of information for educators and students. However, not all of the information found is written by reliable sources. Web sites often contain biased, inaccurate, or incomplete information. The reader must critically evaluate the information found. It is the intent of this web site to assist you in evaluating web sites for their usefulness in student research. With practice this process will become 'second nature' as you read web information.

Directions:

Start with the first query and then proceed to each of the following queries. Your preference in their order may vary depending on your audience and purpose. Our suggestion is to use them in the following order for practice. If you find a negative response to any one step that cannot be overlooked, then that may be your clue to find another web site to evaluate. 

 

 1. Is it a quick match?

  • The first observation is a quick skimming of the site. 
  • If, at first glance, the website's purpose matches your purpose, then go on to next query.  

2. Who's the author?  

  • Who wrote the information?
  • Does the author cite their sources?
  • Can you contact the author? 

3. Who's hosting the web site?

  • Does the site have a © Copyright title and year? Does it indicate when it was last updated?
  • Make a mental note of the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). 
  • That's the address in the browser's locator window. Take a close look at the entire domain name. All of these may have accurate, complete, non-biased information, but you need the 'heads-up' of who is publishing the site!

    .edu - higher educational institutions
    .org - nonprofit organizations
    .gov - government institutions
    .com - commercial businesses 
    .mil - military organizations
    .net - can be either a business or organization

 4. What is the purpose of this site?

  • Is the content bias nuetral or can you clearly recognize the bias?
  • Is the purpose of the site to share facts or opinions about the subject?

5. Is the information you Are looking for really there? 

  • Does the content follow your objectives and purpose?
  • Will the readers be able to locate the information readily?

6. Is the content current? 

  • Check for timeliness. Some documents put on the web just yesterday may have data from years before, this is especially true in the area of science where data changes so quickly. 
  • The flip side of this is that the historic natural of the information may be timeless and important to you. It goes back to, who is the source?

 7. Can my audience read it?

  • Are there key words in the title, frames, and links that will help in navigating the site.
  • Is the print size reasonable for my audience?
  • Does it have pictures, graphics or tables that help clarify the text?
  • Is the information clearly labeled? Is the readability level within the audience's range of reading comprehension?

 8. Is it easy to navigate?

  • How long did the page take to load?
  • Can you go back and forth in the document? 
  • Do the links work?
  • If you go to another page, can you get back? 

9.  It's a match!

  • If you answered yes to your priority questions, then the web site you are evaluating will be an excellent addition to your resource list! 

 
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