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ENGL 101 - Candida - Fall 2020: Evaluating Websites

Printable Check Lists

Download and print one or both of these check lists as a guide in your website evaluation:

Quick Check List

Don't have time to fill out a worksheet?  Here's a few questions to ask yourself before using information from a website:

  • Check the domain (.edu, .org, .com).
  • What is the purpose and goals of the website?
  • Determine if any bias exists (i.e. is this an advertisement, or an organization with a motive?)
  • Who wrote the published the page or wrote the article? What are their credentials?
  • When was the information published or last updated?
  • Is it relevant to your topic?

Evaluating Websites

                                                     

Believe it or not, a Google search does not always give you reliable, accurate information. Will you eat anything that someone hands you? Probably not! You would want to know what it is made of, is it something you want, and will it be good for you. The same goes for websites; it is up to you to determine whether a website is reliable, and contains information that you need.

If you would like to use a website for your research, consider asking the following questions:

WHAT type of website is it?

WHY was the website created?

WHO created the website and WHO are it's contributors?

WHEN was the information published or last updated?

and...

HOW credible is the information and HOW relevant is it to your research?

(click on the tabs above for more information)

Credits: Information adapted from "Evaluating Information - Applying the CRAAP Test," Meriam Library, CSU Chico and "Evaluating Websites," Chaffey College Research Guide. 

WHAT type of website is it?

The domain name (URL) extension often shows you what type of website it is. Here are some common examples:

.com – Commercial websites

  • Created by a business or corporation to advertise and sell products or services. 
  • Can also provide information or news, but often relies on ad sales for profit. 
    • Examples: www.tesla.com; www.cnn.com

 .org – Organization websites

  • Typically used by both non-profit organizations. 
  • Provides information supporting a specific organization and cause.
  • Viewpoints expressed can sometimes be biased in order to support the organization's agenda.
    • Examples: www.peta.org; www.nra.org

.edu – Educational websites

  • Created by a college, university or school.
  • Information is highly regulated, reliable, and provided for academic purposes.
    • Examples: www.riohondo.edu; www.ucla.edu

 .gov – Government websites

  • Created by local, state, and national governments.
  • Information is regulated and provided for the public.
    • Examples: www.ca.gov; www.whitehouse.gov

Blogs

  • Personal websites that may contain highly biased opinions and information.
  • Usually generated through a blog service, such as blogger.com or blogspot.com.
  • Often includes a "~" symbol (tilde) within the URL address, with an ".htm" or ".html" extension.

Other websites:

  • .net (network websites) = similar to .com sites, but often used by smaller businesses or individuals.
  • .mil (military websites)
  • Non-U.S. websites = examples: .it (Italy); .jp (Japan) 

Keep in mind that any website you use for research purposes should always be carefully evaluated (even if it is a .edu or .gov website).

WHY was the website created?

Examining the purpose of a website will help you to determine if the information contains a particular viewpoint or bias. 

If you are thinking of using a website for your research, consider asking the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/organization make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

WHO created the website?‚Äč

  • What company, organization or person created the website?
  • For articles, what are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher phone number or email address?

To answer these questions, you need to DIG DEEPER! Investigate the author or publisher of a website by the following methods:

  • Find out more about a company or organization's mission and goals by clicking on the ABOUT, INFORMATION, MISSION, or FAQs page (this information is usually found at the top or bottom of a website).
  • Check credentials of an author by linking to other articles they have articles written, do a Google search, or contact them directly.
  • If no information can be found about a website's publisher or author, you need to question the reliability of that source.

WHEN was the information on the website last updated?

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • If available, click on links to other sources to verify where the information came from. 

The importance of WHEN the information was published or updated depends on your topic, assignment requirements, and professor's expectations.

HOW credible is the information? Measure the accuracy of information by asking the following questions:

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Are there references or other sources listed?
  • Has the information been reviewed by other professionals or experts?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotions?
    • Tip: watch out for articles that are meant to sway opinion or trigger a negative emotional response.
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors? Also, does the design of a website appear professional?

also, and perhaps MOST important, consider...

HOW relevant is it to your research?

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use.
    • Tip: don't just use the first website or article you find, take some time and search for the best sources!
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Google Advanced Search


You can search the web more efficiently by using Google Advanced Search. You can filter out by domains, websites, date, file types, and more. Access Google Advanced Search by clicking on Settings from the Google homepage.

 

Evaluating Websites Video

Check out this short video about evaluating websites for credibility.

Evaluating Websites/Online Resources