Evaluate Your Sources

Adapted from  Beck, Susan. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: or, Why It’s a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources.  1997. http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/eval.html

Criteria

Questions to Ask

Why?

Authority

Is there an author (person or organization) listed? Is the author qualified or an expert? Is there a link to information about the author or sponsor?

1. Anyone can publish anything on the web.
2. It is often difficult to determine a web page's authorship.
3. Even if a page is signed, qualifications are not usually provided.

Accuracy

Is the information reliable and error-free? Is there an editor or someone who verifies/checks the information?

1. Unlike traditional print resources, web resources rarely have editors or fact-checkers.
2. Currently, no webs standards exist to ensure accuracy.

Objectivity

Does the information show a minimum of bias or represent all sides? Is the page designed to sway opinion? Is there any advertising on the page?

1. Frequently the goals of the sponsors/authors are not clearly stated.
2. Often the web serves as a virtual soapbox.

Currency

Is the page dated? If so, when was the last update? How current are the links? Have some expired or moved?

1. Publication or revision dates are not always provided.
2. This can make it difficult to determine if the information is current.

Coverage

What topics are covered? What does this page offer that is not found elsewhere? How in-depth is the material?

1. Web coverage often differs from print coverage.
2. Frequently, it's difficult to determine the extent of coverage of a topic from a web page. The page may or may not include links to other web pages or print references.
3. Sometimes web information is "just for fun," a hoax, someone's personal expression that may be of interest to no one, or even outright silliness.

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