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Online Tutorial: Evaluating Websites: Videos

Approaches identified for evaluating different parts of websites, particularly for academic information.

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Learning Objectives

After completing this tutorial you will

  1. be able to apply some standard guidelines to determine the quality of information that you find on the web.

Step 1: Initial considerations

When evaluating websites, consider the following:

Author: who is the author or sponsor of the site? Is it a person or organization? What are the author’s credentials? Is there contact information other than an email address?

Accuracy: Does the information appear accurate? Can it be verified, or are there citations, so you can evaluate where the information came from?

Bias: Does the site seem more biased or objective? Are any biases or perspectives openly stated? What is the purpose of the site and the information provided? Is the goal to sell? To persuade? To advocate an agenda? To inform? Why are advertisements (if any) there? Do they relate to the site? The web site’s URL address may have one of the following abbreviations to identify the type of site and give you a clue regarding bias/objectivity: .edu = educational; .org = organization; .gov = government; .com = commercial; .net = network/utilities; .mil = military

Currency Does the information seem up-to-date? When was the site created or last updated? Create a bookmark with the title “Last Updated” and the javascript phrase javascript:alert(document.lastModified) as the URL. When you select the bookmark while on a website, it will show when the site was last updated. However, many websites are automatically updated, so it may only provide the current date.

Step 2: Citation Styles