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Evaluation steps

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?

©2006 - University Libraries , The University of Alabama
adapted with permission from
Healey Library , University of Massachusetts, Boston
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