Evaluating resources is an imporant part of the research process. Whether you are using books, newspapers, or database articles, you should always be sure that the source you use is the best fit for your assignment.
It is especially important to evaluate webpages, because although the World Wide Web can be a great source of information for your research papers, not all information on the Web is good. Online info can be published by anyone, regardless of expertise. Most webpages do not undergo a lengthy editing process; they can be created quickly and easily, and there is no quality control process to ensure their accuracy. In short, a website can look very professional but still contain bad information.
For all of these reasons, it is important to evaluate webpages before you use them for your assignments. The pages of this guide describe some of the things you should look for when evaluating an online resource.
Evaluating webpages is not an exact science, but there are several things you should take into account when deciding whether or not to use a webpage as a resource.
Authority - Who is the author of the webpage, and are they trustworthy? Who published the site? Does the author or publisher have a bias or agenda?
Accuracy - Is the information on the webpage accurate? Does it match information you have found in sources you know to be trustworthy?
Currency - Is the webpage up-to-date?
Coverage - Does the webpage offer the best coverage of your topic?
For a more detailed look at these criteria, as well as tips on using links to evaluate a webpage, please click on the tabs at the top of this guide.