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Why Evaluating Websites is Important
It is important to evaluate the quality of information provided by any resource that you use, but this is particularly so for websites. Since any person or organization can create a website, the user must take on the responsibility for determining the accuracy and relevance of the material on that site. This page serves as a guide to help you evaluate websites.
The ABC Test
Use the ABC test to help you determine the credibility of a website.
Authority - The source of the information
Who is the author, publisher, source, or sponsor?
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 or e-mail address?
Bias - The purpose and point of view of the information
What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, to teach, to sell, to entertain?
Do the authors or sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
Currency - The timeliness of the information
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?
Are the links functional?
Web Address Clues
Look at the web address for clues about the quality of the information. The last part of a website address is the domain suffix and can give you an idea about the quality of the site. Some common examples are .com, .org, .edu, and .gov.
Restricted top level domains (only qualified entities can use these domains):
- .edu - associated with a U.S. school, school district, or university
- .gov - created by the U.S. government
Unrestricted top level domains (anyone, good or bad, can use these domains):
- .com - created by a commercial entity
- .org - created by an organization
Search tip! You can restrict your Internet search results to include only websites from certain domains by including site: followed by the domain suffix.
- site:.gov privacy legislation
- site:.org government surveillance
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Searching the Open Web [Research Companion]
Video Tutorial: Evaluating Websites