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Research Help: Evaluating Resources

Evaluating Web Resources

When you use Web documents there is no editor except YOU!  You need to train yourself to look at Web sources with a very critical eye. Before using a Web resource make sure you:

  • Identify the Author or sponsor of the source
  • Determine the Purpose of the Web site
  • Identify any Bias viewpoints that could influence the content of the resource
  • Note how Current or up-to-date the resource is, also note things like how reliable the links are and what types of resources they point to
  • In addition, ask youself if the content makes sense in relation to everything else you've learned about your topic

Use the Web Page Evaluation Checklist from the University of California, Berkeley to train yourself to scan Web resources and to evaluate them.

Check out this video on choosing Web resources wisely by Prentiss Price-Evans:

Why Evaluate?

In academia and after graduation you will be expected to use the highest quality sources of information for your work. As you gather information for your research projects, you'll look at many different sources: books, articles from databases, Web documents, interviews, videos, and more.

Here are five questions to ask about all information you are considering using in your academic work:

Relevancy - Does it answer your question or contribute to your research?

Currency - Is the content presented current enough for your project?

Accuracy- Is the information provided correct?

Authoritativeness - Does the author have expertise on the topic about which he/she is writing?

Objectivness - Is there bias or a slant given to the information provided?

The books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's research databases are usually reliable and credible because they have gone through a traditional editorial process; someone or some group has checked all the facts and arguments the author made and deemed them suitable for publishing. You still have to think about whether or not the book or article is current and suitable for your project but you can feel confident that it is a credible, reliable source. Online resources often do not go through the editorial process and must be evaluated thoroughly before use.

Evaluating Web Resources

When you use Web documents there is no editor except YOU!  You need to train yourself to look at Web sources with a very critical eye. Before using a Web resource make sure you:

  • Identify the Author or sponsor of the source
  • Determine the Purpose of the Web site
  • Identify any Bias viewpoints that could influence the content of the resource
  • Note how Current or up-to-date the resource is, also note things like how reliable the links are and what types of resources they point to
  • In addition, ask youself if the content makes sense in relation to everything else you've learned about your topic

Use the Web Page Evaluation Checklist from the University of California, Berkeley to train yourself to scan Web resources and to evaluate them.

Check out this video on choosing Web resources wisely by Prentiss Price-Evans: