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Websites for College Research  

Last Updated: Apr 26, 2015 URL: http://libguides.riohondo.edu/WebsiteEvaluation Print Guide RSS Updates

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From the Library Website

 

Web Sites Myths

Web Sites Myths

  • “I found it on the Web so it must be true”
  • “All Web sites are of the highest quality”
  • “Everything (all knowledge, all information) is on the Web/Internet; all I have to do is Google it”

The need to evaluate Web Sites

  • Anyone can publish Web sites
  • No one screens or reviews Web sites
  • Buyer (or reader) beware environment
  • Criteria are necessary to assess Web sites

Why Evaluate Web Sites

TO SELECT INFORMATION THAT IS APPROPRIATE FOR YOUR RESEARCH ASSIGNMENTS

Web Sites and “Buyer Beware”

  • The Web is an unfiltered environment
  • Web sites can be produced by anyone
  • A Web site can be:
    Misinformation
    Hoaxes
    Scams (get rich quick)
    Urban myths
    Biased
  • Many are not reviewed by fact checkers or editors
 

Library Materials

  • Selected by librarians through:

    Reviews
    Knowledge of the topic
    Knowledge of the author
    Knowledge of the publisher
    Requests from faculty teaching courses
     
  • Selected to support courses at Rio Hondo College 
 

Checklist to Evaluate Web Sites

  • Purpose

    Identify what is the purpose of the Web site/page.

    Web sites can be:

    Entertainment

    http://www2.warnerbros.com/main/homepage/homepage.html

    Business/Marketing/Commercial
    http://www.chevrolet.com/corvette/
    http://www.networksolutions.com

    Reference/Informational
    http://www.infoplease.com/


    Educational
    http://www.drunkdriving-california.net/

    News
    http://www.latimes.com/
    http://www.bbc.com

    Advocacy
    http://nra.org/
    http://www.saferoads.org

    Personal Page
    http://www.michaelmoore.com/


    What does the URL says about the purpose of the web site?

    .com = business/marketing, e-commerce
    .mil = military site
    .edu = academic, colleges/universities
    .gov = U.S. government produced
    .net = network
    .org = organization, may be charitable, religious or a lobbying group
    ~ (tilde) indicates personal Web page
     
  • Goals
    Are the goals of the Web site clearly stated?
    Example:
    Pew Research Institute

     
  • Objectivity
    Is the Web site biased or objective?
    Examples:
    Pro-Life Movement
    Pro-Choice Movement

     
  • Coverage
    Is the topic covered in depth or briefly?
    Are quality links to other useful sites included?
     
  • Authority
    Is the author’s name or the organization’s name listed?
    Do authors list their professional affiliation, credentials, or degrees?
    Does he/she have sufficient authority to speak on the subject?
    Is there any way to reach the author?
    If an organization is listed, is it well-known and reputable?
    Example:
    Smart Voter

     
  • Appropriateness and Relevance
    Is the content of the page appropriate for your assignment?
    Is the content accurate, complete and well-written?
    Is the content relevant to your topic or question?
     
  • Sources
    Does the Web site list where the information was obtained?
    Example:
    Internet Time Line
     
  • Accuracy
    Is the information correct, or is the information verified by an editor(s) or a fact checker (most Web sites are not)?

    Verify the facts with other sources such as authoritative books, periodicals, or with an instructor or librarian.
     
  • Currency
    Are the creation date and revision dates listed?
    Example
    Juvenile Justice (teens tried as adults) subject guide from the Rio Hondo College Library Web site
     
  • Accessibility
    Does the site load quickly?
    Can you navigate the site easily?
    Is there a text-only alternative for the visually-impaired?
     
  • Clarity
    Is the information clearly  presented?
    Are the pages well organized?
    Are there mistakes in spelling or grammar?
    Is the text legible and formatted for easy reading


    Hoaxes
    A hoax is a deliberate attempt to deceive or trick an audience into believing, or accepting, that something is real, when the hoaxster knows it is not; or that something is true, when it is false. (Wikipedia)

    To verify the authenticity of the site you may have to go through several layers of the site to find "About" or "Contact Us" information.
    http://www.hoax-slayer.com/
    http://www.snopes.com/
    http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/sep00/piper.htm

 

 

Exercise

Evaluating Web Sites

Title of web page:

Web page address (URL):

Date accessed:

 

Authority

  • Who is (are) the author(s) or sponsoring organization(s)?

    • Is (are) the author(s) clearly identified?
  • Are the authors and/or maintainers of the site authorities in their field?
  • Can you contact the author(s)?

    • If so, how?
  • Does the URL or web address indicate the publisher or sponsor of the web site?

    • Is there any other information about the author or publisher?
  • What is the purpose of the web page?

Accuracy

  • Is the information verifiable in another source?
  • Does the web page use correct spelling and grammar?
  • Are the author's sources given credit with full citation information?

Objectivity

  • Is there any bias towards the subject matter?

    • If so, what is the bias?
  • Does the author/publisher have a particular viewpoint, which influences the content or presentation of the information?
  • Are advertisements present on the site?

    • Do the viewpoints of the advertiser(s) influence the content of the information?

Currency

  • Is the date of the last revision or update posted?

    • If so, what is the date?
    • Is it recent enough for the subject matter of the site?

Coverage

  • What is the topic?

    • Is it covered in depth?
    • Does the information on this web page fulfill its intended purpose?
  • Is a site map or table of contents provided?

    • Is it easy to get to?

Other Issues

  • Is the site easy to use?
  • Is the information clearly labeled and organized?
  • Are there any software requirements, other than a browser, to view the page?
  • Are all the hyperlinks live and working?
  • If you found a lower tiered page on the site, can it stand alone?

    • Is there a link from that lower page to the main page?

 

 

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