Return to the Library Home page Ohlone College home page Criteria for evaluating web resources

The Basics: Authority | Purpose | Objectivity | Currency

Authority

Criteria

  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Can you contact the creator?
  • If it's an organization, what type of organization?

Some things to think about

  • Can the author be verified as a recognized expert on the subject?
  • Has she/he published in print, peer-reviewed sources?
  • Does an email or mailing address appear on site?
  • Is the institution or organization recognized and respected?

Strategies

  • Look for the information in "about" or "about us" "who we are" "what is"...
  • Decode the URL: domain name can tell you if it is a government site, an academic site, or a commercial site.

Purpose

Criteria

  • Why was this site created?
  • What does site’s purpose suggest to you?
  • Who is the intended audience?

Some things to think about

  • Commercial/Marketing - To sell?
  • Advocacy - To persuade?
  • Informational/News - To provide information without charge?
  • Personal - To share info, ideas, opinions, etc., of an individual?

Strategies

  • Go back to the "about" section to see if there is a stated ideology, mission, or purpose. Domain name?

Objectivity

Criteria

  • Does the site have an obvious point of view?
  • Is the language free of emotion-arousing words and bias?
  • Who sponsors the site?

Some things to think about

  • Try to avoid obvious bias if you are trying to report "facts."
  • However, advocacy sites may collect information from many sources, & make connections more objective sources won’t!

Strategies

  • Check facts cited on the website against other sources.
  • If the site carries advertisements, consider what they advertise against content point of view.
  • Sponsors may not be declared; your ATTENTION may be the “product” the creator is selling to a third party!

Currency

Criteria

  • When was the site produced?
  • When was it last updated?
  • Are the links up-to-date?

Some things to think about

  • Is the information on the page outdated?
  • Ask yourself: does the information require frequent updating—or not?
  • Are the links current? How many dead links are on the page?

Strategies

  • Look for a last revised or updated date, sometimes at the top of the page, sometimes at the bottom.
  • Look for a last revised date through the browser. For example, in Firefox, try:
    Go to Tools > Page Info, or right click on page > Page Info.

Remember:

Don't believe everything you read on the Web (or anywhere else)!
Think critically, be skeptical!
The best resources may not be on the Web!!!
Any questions? Ask a librarian!

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This document was last modified: Tuesday, 24-Sep-2013 15:50:39 Pacific Daylight Time