To evaluate a website, consider the following:
1. What are the clues to
- Date--is the date the information
was written and/or last updated clearly marked?
- Author-who is responsible
for the information on the page? Does the page list professional credentials
or experiences which qualify that person/organization as an expert on
- Affiliations-is the author
identified with any group or organization which might influence his
- Contact Information-is
there a way to contact the author (email, phone number, or postal address)?
- Background-is the information
presented verifiable in outside sources?
2. Who is responsible
for the information being presented?
- Is it from an individual or an
- What are the goals of the author
in presenting this information?
- Are the qualifications that allow
the author to speak authoritatively on the topic listed?
- Are the background and expertise
of the individual/organization given?
- If you have questions about any
of these, email the author and ask.
3. Where is the information
- Domain names gives basic information
on where the data is originating. The domain name is the first piece
of information after the http:// of an Internet address. For example,
the domain name for Mt. SAC is www.mtsac.edu.
- Extensions are part of the domain
name (such as .edu) and indicate the type of organization that is responsible
for the information. Common extensions include:
- .gov A U.S. government website.
Governmental agencies publish most of their information online.
- We can assume some level
of editorial control over the content.
- .edu A college or university
website. The schools publish information, as do faculty, staff,
- We can assume limited
editorial control of content.
- .org An organizational website.
From professional (American Medical Association) to political (NRA).
- We can assume some editorial
control of content, but must consider organizational goals.
- .net An Internet service
company. Internet service companies allow subscribers to publish
- We can assume only the
author has editorial control of the content.
- .com A commercial website.
Commercial websites deserve the most scrutiny by researchers.
- We can assume the company
has editorial control and intends to sell you something, whether
a product or opinion.
4. Did someone else consider
this information to be acceptable?
- Was it reviewed or recommended
in a professional journal?
- Was it linked from another site
whose authority and reliability you trust?
- Most search engines do not
screen or evaluate the sites that they index.
- Directories and pathfinders
are based on the selectivity of their creators.
5. Can you write a 1-2
sentence explanation of why your Internet source is authoritative enough
to include in your list of works cited?
--Your audience will be looking
at your works cited to determine how credible you are as an author.
*Created May, 2000
by Deb Distante