Unlike journal articles and books that go through an editorial process and peer review, Web sites can be produced by anyone with a computer. Follow these steps to critically evaluate a site:
- Determine the site's purpose.
- Is it to inform, to present opinions, to report research, or tosell a product?
- For what audience is it intended?
- Identify the site's author.
- Are qualifications, experience, and/or institutional affiliation given?
- Who supports the site?
Information from a site labeled ".org" or ".edu" may provide a different viewpoint than a site labeled ".com."
- government sites end in ".gov"
- non-profit organizations end in ".org"
- university sites end in ".edu"
- commercial sites end in ".com"
- Consider the site's authority.
- Does the Web site contain documented facts or personal opinion?
- Are sources of information cited? Does the site look professional (no typos or spelling errors)?
- Has the information on the page been transcribed from another source? If yes, this indicates second-hand information; check the original source. Did you get to this site via a link from a site you know and trust?
- Check the site's timeliness.
- Is the content up to date? Is the date of creation or most recent revision clearly shown?
- Are all the links on the page current or are there many dead ends?
- Consider the site's content.
- What aspect of your topic does the site not cover? Can you use this site to support a position you plan to take in your paper?
- How are the links on the site's pages relevant and appropriate to the purpose of the site?