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Student Resources: Evaluating Information

Evaluating Websites

Anyone with access to the Internet can publish on the Web -- which means that it's the reader's responsibility to determine the reliability and value of the information found on any website. The following checklist can help with evaluating resources for research credibility.

Criteria for Evaluating Information Sources

Currency

  1. The information source indicates the publication date of the information and/or the date of last revision to the website page.
  2. Any links supplied by the source should be active and functional.

Relevance

  1. The source's information should be suitable to the research needs and related in some way to the research topic.
  2. Identifying the source's intended audience may give insight into how relevant it is for the research.

Authority

  1. The source lists an author or organization for the information provided, as well as that author's qualifications and/or institutional affiliations.
  2. If the source is a website, its top-level domain is appropriate for the type of research conducted (.com, .org, .edu., etc.). Different types of websites could present different kinds of bias.
  3. The source includes contact information for the author or the organization presenting the information (e.g., an email address, street address, phone number, etc.).

Accuracy

  1. The source clearly names, cites, and/or links back to sources for any included facts, statistics, charts or graphs.
  2. The source is free of grammatical, spelling, and other typographical errors.
  3. Is the source a peer-reviewed/refereed/scholarly publication? Is that quality of information required for the intended research?

Purpose

  1. The source's purpose is to inform, and not to sell, persuade, or entertain. If the intention is persuasion, is this useful to the intended research?
  2. The source uses objective and impartial language and tone, and not inflammatory or highly emotional language.
  3. The source's author discusses pro and con arguments for the topic with no clear evidence of bias.