Evaluating Web Resources

It is always good examine web resources with a healthy dose of skepticism.  Assume that everyone who posts something on the web has a reason or agenda.

That agenda can be financial, political, religious, personal, recreational, informational or any of a host of other motivators.  Your job is to become your own filter guided by your already well-developed “BS” meter.

Below are a few guidelines posted by Kent State University libraries that can help you develop your own sensibilities. Consider the following.

  1. Authority: Who created the site?
    • What is their authority?
      • What is their expertise or experience with the topic?
      • What are their credentials, institutional affiliation?
    • Is organizational information provided?
    • Does the URL suggest a reputable affiliation with regard to the topic–personal or official site; type of Internet domain (i.e., .edu: educational institution; .org: non-profit organization; .com: commercial enterprise; .net: Internet Service Provider; .gov: governmental body; .mil: military body)?
  2. Objectivity: Is the purpose and intention of the site clear, including any bias or particular viewpoint?
    • Are the purpose and scope stated?
    • Who is the intended audience?
    • Is the information clearly presented as being factual or opinion, primary or secondary in origin?
    • What criteria is used for inclusion of the information?
    • Is any sponsorship or underwriting fully disclosed?
  3. Accuracy: Is the information presented accurate?
    • Are the facts documented or well-researched?
    • Are the facts similar to those reported in related print or other online sources?
    • Are the Web resources for which links are provided quality sites?
  4. Currency: Is the information current?
    • Is the content current?
    • Are the pages date-stamped with last update?
  5. Usability: Is the site well-designed and stable?
    • Is the site organization logical and easy to manuever?
    • Is the content written at a level that is readable by the intended audience?
    • Has attention been paid to presenting the information as error-free (e.g., spelling, punctuation) as possible?
    • Is there a readily identifiable link back to the institutional or organizational home page?
    • Is the site reliably accessible?