Skip to main content

Research Toolkit: Quickly evaluate a website

Research toolkit to help you learn how to find the information you need.

 Related Guides: Quickly Evaluate a Book, Quickly Evaluate an Article

 

Try It

 

Before you decide to use a book, take a few minutes to evaluate it for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose.

Criteria Questions to Ask Analysis

 


Currency

 

  • What is the “created date” for this site?

  • What is the “last update” date for this site?

  • Does it appear that this article is up-to-date? 

‚Äč

  • Every credible website includes the date that it was first created and the date of last update.
  • Ask yourself, do I need more current information than what is being presented on this website?

 

 
 
 
 
Relevance

 

  • Does the site thoroughly cover the subject matter?

  • Are there links to additional information?

  • Is the information relevant to the subject?

  • Sometimes, this is difficult to determine if you lack a background in the subject area.
  • Copyright laws prevent web authors from posting the same material found in print journals and books for free.
  • Sometimes, websites are designed for fun

 

 

 
 
 
Authority

 

  • What kind of site is this? (.com, .org,.edu. or .gov)

  • Who is responsible for the content on the site? (Author name or sponsor name)

  • Is there any indication the author or sponsor is an expert on this topic?

  • Does anyone review this site for accuracy/veracity?

Hints

  • Look at the About Us, FAQ, Philosophy, Biography links.
  • Look up the author in any search engine.
  • Look at the domain name: .edu, .com, .gov, .org, .net to provide clues about the group or entity providing the website.

  • Unfortunately, most websites do not provide an author.
  • Even when you find an author's name, no credentials are provided.
  • Sponsorship is not always given.

 

Accuracy

 

  • Do they provide references (citations) to the information?

  • Can you look up where the author found the information presented – are there links provided for this purpose?

  • Do you see any indication that edits, revisions, or retractions have been made?

  • There are no standards for checking the accuracy of websites. Anyone can publish on the web.
  • Unlike print sources, the web rarely has an editor or fact checker.
 
 
 
 
 
Purpose
  • Why was this written?(Entertain, Persuade or Inform)
  • Does the author/publisher make money off of this publication?

  • Does the article provide you with an abstract defining its purpose?

  • With the web, it is important to know who is providing the information so that you understand their point of view or bias.
  • Corporate websites always present themselves in the most positive light.
  • Information should always be accurate and documented