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HUM 115: Critical Thinking

Resources for completing HUM 115 Critical Thinking assignments.

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.

Fact-Checking and Digging Deeper

"...when presented with a new site that needs to be evaluated, professional fact-checkers don’t spend much time on the site itself. Instead they get off the page and see what other authoritative sources have said about the site." 

~From Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, Chapter 16 "What Reading Laterally Really Means," by Michael A. Caulfield

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?
What do other scholars, professionals, instructors, etc. have to say about the author of the website?
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?

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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