evaluate a web site
Always refer to your research paper guidelines since the use of web sites may not be allowed in your class. Your professor should approve any web sites prior to inclusion in a research paper.
Use the 8 questions 1 below to determine whether or not to use a web site.
"NO" answers may indicate that the resource should NOT be used.
- Does your professor allow the use of web sites?
- Is the web site's intended audience and content appropriate for your research?
- Is an author or corporate author (e.g. American Psychological Association) identified?
NOTE: URL endings may provide information about the web site owners. Based on Pritchard's Effective Teaching with Internet Technologies, .gov denotes a government web site and .edu is used for educational institution web sites. Although .org is used for non-profit and non-commercial institutions, it is also used for "miscellaneous bodies that do not fit under any of the other top-level domains" (Pritchard, 2007, p. 18).
- Is the author qualified to present the information?
a. expertise in the subject area?
b. appropriate credentials (e.g. degrees, licenses, certifications)?
c. work related experience?
d. affiliation with reputable organizations?
e. published other works on the subject?
- Is there potential bias?
DEFINITION OF BIAS: "prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair" (New Oxford American Dictionary, 2005)
Does the author present the material in an unbiased manner?
a. Are the author affiliations or publication affiliations potential sources of bias?
b. Does the author's tone indicate a bias towards a particular point of view?
c. Does the author thoroughly explore differing points of view?
Does the sponsor or web site owner present material objectively?
a. Does the web site exclude advertisements or pop-up ads?
b. Does the web site owner present multiple points of view?
c. Does the web site have a clearly stated purpose or scope? (e.g. there is no hidden agenda)
- Is the web site content accurate or verifiable?
a. Is the web site owner identified and is there contact information?
b. Is the information consistent with other resources such as peer-reviewed articles?
c. Does the web site have references and citations allowing you to verify the information?
- Is the information current? NOTE: The definition of currency depends on the subject you are studying.
a. Is the date of last revision listed and current?
b. Does the web site list current topics and events (e.g. news and calendar)?
c. Is the web site well maintained (e.g. free of broken links)?
- Is the web site durable; will it be around in a few months?
To help you find credible resources, including web sites, the Emmanuel College Library has created Research Guides
. These subject specific guides list print, database, and internet resources chosen and evaluated by the library staff.
These questions were based on the evaluating resources sections in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
(Modern Language Association, 2009, 33-38) and 100% Information Literacy Success
(Taylor, Arth, Solomon, & Williamson, 2007, 101-139).
McKean, E. (Ed.). (2005). The new Oxford American dictionary
(2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Modern Language Association. (2009). MLA handbook for writers of research papers
(7th ed.). New York: Modern Language Association of America.
Pritchard, A. (2007). Effective teaching with Internet technologies
. California: Paul Chapman Publishing.
Taylor, T., Arth, J., Solomon, A. & Williamson, N. (2007). 100% information literacy success
. Clifton Park: Thomson Delmar Learning.
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