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Five Points to Consider When Evaluating Websites


Who is the author of the web site? The author may be a person or an organization.

What are the author's credentials? Are they an expert on the topic? Could their credentials be made up?

Is contact information provided? If not, there is a good chance the author or organization is bogus.

Who is the sponsoring organization or institution? If it is a college or university, government site, or an organization such as Smithsonian, you should be okay.

Look at the domain.Usually, sites with the domain .edu (educational institution) or .gov (government site) are fine to use for research. Be very careful when looking at .com (commericial web page) and .org (organization) domains.Remember that the tilde (~) in the address indicates that it is a personal web page. Be very careful of these sites.

Avoid websites that have been published using free webspace. This includes sites from Angelfire, Geocities, Tripod, AOL, MSN, etc.



Why was the web site created? Is the purpose to sell something, to educate, or to make you believe something?

Who is the intended audience - researchers, students, extremists, etc?

How is the site designed? Are there a lot of advertisements? Is it easy to read? Does it appear professional?



When was the information last updated? This should be listed somewhere on the page, either as a copyright date or as a last updated date. Is the information up-to-date?



Is the information provided fair and balanced? Are both sides of the issue presented fairly and accurately?

Is there a bibliography?

Does the author or organization have an agenda? Is the site trying to persuade you to believe something or is it simply to inform?



Is all the information supported with facts?

Are all the facts cited?

Are the sources in the bibliography well-known and accepted sources?

Are there external links to other pages on the subject?

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