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PHIL 102 Research Guide (Newhouse): Websites

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Evaluating websites

Evaluating What Your Find on Websites

The following guidelines are important to consider when evaluating websites (they help with articles and books, too!):

Authority:

  • Is it clear who is responsible for the web page?
  • Is there a way of verifying the page’s sponsor? (An email address is not enough).
  • Is it clear who wrote the material?  Are their credentials clearly stated?
  • If the material is copyrighted, is the name of the copyright holder given?

Accuracy:

  • Are the sources for any factual information clearly cited for verification?
  • Is the information clear of blatant grammatical, spelling and/or other typographical errors?
  • If there are graphs or charts are they clearly labeled?  Is source information given?

Objectivity:

  • What is the purpose of providing the information?  (public service, profit, or persuasion)
  • Is the information free of advertising?
  • If there is advertising is it clearly differentiated from the informational content?

Currency:

  • Are there dates on the page indicating when it was written?  When it was last revised? 
  • Are there indications that the material is kept current?

Coverage:

  • Is there an indication that the page is complete and not still under construction?
  • If there is a print equivalent, does the page state if the entire work is on the web or only parts of it?

(These criteria based on checklist in the book Web Wisdom: How to Evaluate and Create Information Quality on the Web by Jan Alexander and Marsha Ann Tate)

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