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Guide: Evaluating Websites: Home

Welcome

Welcome to the 'Evaluating Websites' Guide.

Introduction

There are many potential pitfalls with web sites.  The Internet is the least filtered information source in the world.  Anyone may create a web site on any topic despite their lack of knowledge on the topic or any biases they may harbour. 

Therefore, it is important if you are doing research on the Internet that you learn to critically evaluate the material you find.  Some questions to ask when evaluating Internet sites are included in the following sections...

Who?

  • Who wrote the page & can you contact him or her? 
  • Is this person qualified to write this document, do they list their qualifications? 
  • Check the domain (URL) of the document, what institution publishes the document? 

Where?

  • Where is the information coming from? 
  • Look at the address or URL edu is an educational institution, com is a commercial venture, org is an organisation, & gov is a governmental body. 
  • The URL should match the organisation responsible for the page

What?

  • What is the purpose of the document & what is it about?   
  • Look at the document title, content and links. 
  • Do other reputable sites link to this one? 
  • Are the links (if any) evaluated & do they complement the documents’ theme? 
  • Is it all images, or a balance of text & images? 

When?

  • When was it produced? 
  • When was it last updated? 
  • How up-to-date are the links (if any)? 
  • How many dead links are there on the page? 
  • Is the information on the page outdated?

Why?

  • For whom is the site intended? 
  • How detailed is the information? 
  • Is someone trying to sell something, provide a service, engage in a hobby, or increase access to worthwhile sources? 
  • If page is a mask for advertising, the information may be biased. 
  • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?

Websites (Image)

© Pat Guiney (2005), CC BY 2.0

How?

  • How accurate/credible is the page? 
  • Examine references and bibliographies. 
  • If you notice many spelling/grammatical errors – question the accuracy of the information.

Citing Electronic Sources

Just as it is important at the end of an assignment to write a bibliography listing the titles of books, journal articles & other material used; any material you have consulted from the Internet, CD-ROMs or other electronic sources should also be referenced.

The information you require to note in your bibliography is as follows:

Author/editor’s surname, initial.  (Year) Title of document or webpage. Available at: URL. Date you viewed the document.

e.g. Terry, M. (2000) An introduction to criticism. Available at: http://members.home.net/mikencarrie/cricont.htm (Accessed 16 November 2000).

e.g. McCully, M. (2015) 'Pablo Picasso (Spanish Artist)' in Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at:  https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pablo-Picasso (Accessed: 27 July 2016).

Study Skills Tutorials

References

References for images included within this guide:

Pat Guiney (2005) Internet. [Online] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmystery/36700238 (Accessed: 10 October 2019).