Evaluation Criteria

Sections:
1) Introduction
2) Web Directories
3) Search Engines
4) Understanding a URL

5) Five Types of Web Sites
6) Evaluation Criteria
7) Quiz

One of the drawbacks of the Internet is the lack of quality control. Anyone with a computer connected to the Internet who wants to make his or her opinion available can "publish" on the Web. Because there are no restrictions, guidelines, or review processes for contributing to the Web, the quality, accuracy, validity, and authoritativeness of the contributed information varies wildly.

Therefore, when looking at sites on the Web, you must apply your critical thinking skills and judge for yourself the usefulness, validity, and reliability of the information you uncover. Especially when doing general Web surfing or using search engines, arm yourself with an active, questioning mind and a healthy skepticism, because not all Web sites are equally valuable or credible.

The following criteria are a set of questions and/or principles that act as a benchmark to evaluate information.

1) Who is the Author?

Is the author clearly identified? Is the author a person or an organization?

If the author is a person, what are his/her qualifications for writing on this topic?

If the author is a person affiliated with an organization, is it an impartial group (like a university) or a group established to promote an agenda (like the NRA)?

If the author is an organization/institution, does the page give information about the group? Is the organization qualified to be presenting information on this topic?

Is this page part of a larger web site? If so, is the larger site an academic, commercial, nonprofit, or government site?

2) How current is the information?

Is there a date on the page that indicates when it was created or updated?

Is some of the information clearly out of date?

Does the author mention how frequently the material is updated?

Is currency not that important for the topic being presented?

3) What topic(s) are covered and who is the intended audience?

What information/materials/subjects are covered by the Web page/site?

Is the content intended to be an overview or an in-depth analysis?

Is the page/site intended for the general public or a specific group (like scholars, children, or professionals)?

Is the page/site geared toward a particular level of expertise?

4) Is the content accurate?

Is the content free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors?

If factual information is provided, does the author cite his/her sources?

If there are graphs, charts, or tables, are they clearly labeled and easy to read?

5) Is the content objective?

What type of information is this: scholarly, professional, popular, commercial, advocacy, entertainment or a combination of more than one?

Does the page/site show any signs of political, ideological, personal or cultural bias?

Are facts or assertions documented with credible documentation?

If the information is an opinion, is it clearly stated?

If the author is presenting original research, is the research methodology explained?

6) What is the purpose of the information?

Is the purpose clearly stated?

Is the purpose of the page/site to inform, explain, persuade, market a product, advocate a cause, entertain or parody an idea/person?