Following this list of relevant questions
are links to more sites to help you understand the
importance of critical evaluation.
my instructor accept this as a good source of
Keep INTENTION of author, RELEVANCE to topic,
and RELIABILITY of content in mind at all times.
was the website created?
Anyone anywhere with a modem can put up
a website. The trustworthiness of information
may be affected by bias or motive of the person
or group for posting.
- What purpose does this
- What does the author
get out of it? Information, entertainment,
- What does the purpose
tell you about the reliability of the information?
What can the URL tell you about a site's
OPINION does the page represent?
Every page represents somebody's opinion,
but some more so than others. It is vital to
be aware the information you find represents
the author's point of view.
- What point is emphasized
by the website? Is it reasonable?
- Is the tone more reasonably
objective or more fanatical?
is obviously missing? Are there errors
or omissions for n o reason?
was the page posted?
Some information won't change much over
time, but for some, old information may be
useless or detrimental to your paper.
- Can you tell?
- Have the authors/creators
ever changed or updated the page?
- Does it matter?
posted the site?
The authors' willingness to add a name to
work may tell you something about the reliability
of the information
- Is it clearly stated?
Does anyone claim creation?
- For whom do they work?
Are there credentials?
- Is it information you
recognize (e.g. Regents of the University
GOOD is the information?
A good suggestion with this stage is to
have done all your traditional print research
first. Your understanding of your topic will
be stronger and you'll be better able to evaluate
the worthiness of a web site.
- How does the information
fit in with what you already know?
- Is the page edited and
cleared of typos?
- Is the page too graphics
WELL DOCUMENTED is the site?
If the author(s) are willing to post some
references to how they acquired information,
it is a good indicator of some quality to the
- Is there a bibliography,
references section, or works cited?
- Do all the links work?
- Do the links seem to
The United States uses six major protocols
to identify the type of website in question. Some
are listed below with a brief summary of the type
of information and its bias or reliability.
a commercial site.
The intent is generally to sell a product or
service. Some good information about a company
may be found on these sites (e.g. annual reports,
product information), but remember there will
be bias in favor of the service or product over
generally the identifier for a non-profit
group (e.g. Red Cross, United Way, professional
associations). Again, there will be information
regarding the mission and activities of that
organization, but the message and intent is to
convince the reader of the organization's mission
or point of view. The bias will be against opposing
opinions and in favor of the organization's activities.
the protocol for all universities
and colleges in the United States; most
K-12 sites will not be given this identifier.
Many institutions will allow guests to search
their library catalogs, access some special collection
information, and of course, view their services.
In addition, some will host excellect resources
that stemmed from a research project (e.g. Humanities
Text Initiative). However, many universities
also allow students and faculty space to post
personal information or assignments; be careful
you do not select a student's posted assignment
as a source.
assigned to anything published through the United
States government. All branches of government,
all security agencies, and all other agencies
are also given this protocol (e.g. Statistic
Canada, the Government of Canada, 2000 Census).
Information available from these sites can generally
be considered accurate and reliable as published
by the Government. Almost everything available
from the U.S. Government is published via the
World Wide Web.
the designation for companies who have a special
division dedicated to online services (e.g. ATT.net,
Netscape.net); this is generally in addition
to services that are not solely online or computer