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Evaluating Web Sites

As more people gain access to information on the Web and more content is continuously added, it is important to know how to evaluate Web sites to determine if the information is reliable. Most Web content is posted without any form of review for accuracy or reliability, so it is up to you to make sure that the online information you find is credible. The following information serves as a guide to evaluating information on the Web. These resources will help you judge a site based on criteria such as accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, and coverage.

At-a-Glance Guides

Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages
Cornell offers a scannable list of criteria that a Web page should meet for credibility. Criteria include terms such as accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, and coverage.

Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources
The UCLA college library offers a short list of questions to ask yourself when you evaluate a Web site. Issues covered include "Content and Evaluation," "Source and Date," and "Structure."

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly or, Why It's a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources
New Mexico University State Library offers a checklist of Web evaluation criteria, including a rationale for each item. The site also offers links to example Web sites to test your skill in evaluating each criterion.

Evaluating Web Pages
Duke University Libaries offers a criteria checklist (including "authority," "purpose," "current," "objective v. bias," and "support"). This resource also advises whether the Web is the correct resource for your research.

Evaluating Information from the Internet
The Boston College Libraries offer a list of topics to cover when evaluating a Web site, such as "authority," "accuracy," "currency," "purpose," "audience," "coverage," "style and functionality," and other links.

Evaluating Web Sites Guides and Tutorials

Net.Tutor: Evaluation of Web Sites
The Ohio State University Libraries offers a tutorial that introduces techniques for judging the value of Web sites for research purposes. The tutorial contents include "Purpose," "Author, Publisher," "Content," "Recognitions," and a "Lesson Review."

Evaluating Web Sites
Lesley University's library offers an easy to use guide to evaluation criteria, including examples of good and bad sites. Also includes an explanation of how to use domain names to evaluate a site and reminds us that we must often dig deep into a site to thoroughly evaluate its credibility and accuracy.

In-depth Studies on Evaluating Web Sites

Stanford Web Credibility Research
The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab offers information about their Web Credibility Project, which focuses on the following goals:

  • Performing quantitative research on Web credibility.
  • Collecting all public information on Web credibility
  • Acting as a clearinghouse for this information.
  • Facilitating research and discussion about Web credibility.
  • Helping designers create credible Web sites.

Web Credibility Research: A Report on a Large Quantitative Study [PDF]
The Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University conducted an online study that investigated how different elements of Web sites affect people's perception of credibility. Over 1400 people participated in this study, both from the U.S. and Europe, evaluating 51 different Web site elements.

Online Bibliographies on Web Site Evaluation

Evaluating Web Resources: Bibliography
Wolfgram Memorial Library at Widener University offers a bibliography on Web evaluation, including journal articles and articles on the Web.

Evaluating Online Health Resources

Criteria for Assessing the Quality of Health Information on the Internet
This policy paper presents a set of criteria developed for use in evaluating the quality of health information provided on the Internet. 

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