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Home :: Library :: Evaluating Websites

Evaluating Web Sites

Checklist for evaluating web sites:

Content
  • Does the title of the page describe its content?
  • Is the purpose of the page clearly stated?
  • Is the page signed by an author?
  • Is the date it was last updated somewhere on the page?
  • Is the information useful?
  • Does the page lead you to other sources that are useful?
  • Is the information current?
  • Does the information seem biased, or does it seem like the author is trying to convince you agree with their viewpoint or buy something?
  • Does the information contradict something you've found elsewhere?
  • Is a bibliography of printed sources included?
Authority
  • Is the person or organization that created the page clearly identified?
  • Is the person affiliated with a reputable organization?
  • Does the page describe that organization or link to more information about it?
  • If the page contains factual information, does it list the sources of that information (government, research study, clinical trial, published article)?
Layout & Readability
  • Does the page load within a reasonable time?
  • Do graphics and color enhance the readability of the page, or do they make it more difficult to read?
  • Can you print the web site so it is easily useable?
  • Are there any grammatical or spelling errors on the page?
  • Is there an e-mail link to the author?
  • On supporting pages, is there a link back to the main page?
  • Are other links clearly visible?
  • Are links provided to actual content, or to lists of other resources?
  • Are the links reliable (when you follow them, they work)?
  • Is there notation describing where the link will take you to?
  • If links connect to programs or file types that are not HTML, are users informed of the type of file they are linking to?

Why do I need to be careful with internet sources?

The internet is an amazing resource that makes vast amounts of information from all over the world avaiable at the click of a mouse. However, the way information is published on the internet is very different from the usual methods of print publication we are all familiar with. Anyone can publish information on the internet, and there is no guarantee that what is published is accurate, correct, or even true. There are many valuable sites on the internet that contain information which cannot be found in any other format. But intermingled with these gems is a lot of useless, misleading, and false information that could easily be mistaken as "good" just because it is on the web.

Why is printed information considered reliable?

Printed information is easier to verify as "reliable" because it has to go through an approval process before it ever gets seen. In magazines,newspapers, and in books, what is written has to be accepted by a publisher who has editors and editorial boards. Publishers screen information to select items that they consider to be interesting, accurate, or will draw a wide audience of readers. Editors make sure the items selected for publication contain correct factual information (if applicable) and are free from grammatical or spelling errors that would make reading and understanding them difficult.