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Research Guides

Evaluating Websites: Ask Questions

Guide to evaluating websites for papers, presentations, and other projects.

About Its Authority

Who creates/maintains/sponsors the site? Is this information easily located?

Who is the author(s)?
An individual(s), an organization, a business, a government agency, something else?

For personal authors:
What are their credentials/education and qualifications/experience?
With what instititions or organizations are they affiliated?
What is their reputation? Are they known within or beyond their field?

For organizations and other entities:
What is their purpose? Are they credible? How are they funded? How long have they been in existance?

About Its Purpose

What is the subject of the site? Is it focused on one issue or many?

Is the purpose, goal, or mission of the site stated?

Why was the site created?
   To persuade (or profit)?
   To inform?
   To entertain?
   To self express?
   To sell a product?

About Its Content

What is it?
   A report of primary research (survey, study, etc.)?
   An original analysis or commentary?
   A complilation of information gathered from other sources?
   A blog, an online journal/magazine, an organization/agency report, etc.?

In what format(s) is information presented (e.g., text, graphics, video, statistics, maps, etc.)?
Is evidence or supporting documentation given?

Can reference citations be verified?

Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors?

About Its Relevancy for You

Who is the target audience?
   General public?

Is the page current?
   Does the page tell you when it was created?
   Has it been updated?
   Does it need to be updated?
   Does currency matter to the subject covered?

What point of view does the site emphasize?
Does it support its arguments with facts or with rhetoric?
Is this type of website a resource allowed by your professor?