Anyone with a computer and access to server space can put up a web page. There are few restrictions and even fewer established guidelines as to what an author can or cannot put up on a web page. Thus, in order to do effective research and publish responsibly on the World Wide Web, researchers and authors need to investigate and critically approach the author's intentions, credibility, and bias, and the reliability of the information presented. Listed below are questions to assist you in evaluation of web sites.
Who is the author or producer?
What is the authroity or expertise of the individual or group who created this stie?
With what organization is the author affiliated?
What is the bias of the author/producer/organization?
What are the reasons to assume that the author is an authority on the subject?
Is there a way to contact the author or supply feedback?
RELIABILITY OF INFORMATION
Who is the expected audience? Are the content and the links clearly described and suitable for the expected audience?
What is the primary purpose of the site (e.g., advertising, information)?
Is a date of publication provided? When was the web site last revised?
How complete and accurate are the information and links provided?
Are excerpts from texts provided or are entire texts available on the site?
Does the information contradict something you already know or have learned from another source?
Is a bibliography of print or web resources included?
Has the site been reviewed or ranked by an on-line reviewing agency?
This material adapted from the Michigan State University Writing Center Web Page Evaluation handout.