There is a great deal of information on the world wide web ready for your use. But remember, because anyone can publish information on the world wide web for any number of reasons, you must be careful which information you choose to use. Not everything out there is great, or even good. You must therefore become a web detective, evaluating web pages for their value. There are five criteria you should use to judge a web page before you decide to use its information in your research. They are:
  1. Accuracy-- Is the information correct? Is it free from errors? A good rule of thumb is to check the information with two other sources. If they all agree, the information is most likely correct.
  2. Authority -- Who wrote and published the information, and what do they know about the subject? Do they identify themselves and tell you their qualifications?
  3. Objectivity -- Does the writer have a particular opinion on the subject that can be coloring the way he presents the information? Is he trying to achieve some goal by publishing the information? Is he trying to change your opinion?
  4. Currency -- Usually newer information is better than older information. When is the last time the page was updated? Are the links current?
  5. Coverage-- How well does the author cover the topic? Does it have the information that you need? Would you be better off using another source?
Now look at the questionnaire below, and answer to the best of your ability.

Web Site Evaluation Form
What is the web site's URL (address)?
What is the title of the page?
Accuracy
1. Does the information seem generally correct?
2. Can you confirm the information with two other sources?
Authority
1. Look at the end of the site's address. Is it .com, .org, .edu, .gov, etc.?
2. What does this tell you about the site?
3. Who authored the web page?
4. Do they tell you their qualifications?
5. Is there an e-mail address for the responsible person?
Objectivity
1. Is the material presented in a fair, unbiased manner?
2. Does the author use a lot of adjectives like best, worst, most?
3. Did the author focus only on the positive or negative?
4. Does the author seem to be trying to convince you to take a certain position?
Currency
1. When was the web site last updated?
2. Are the links current?
Coverage
1. Is the information on the page useful for your research?
2. Could you find more information better suited to your project somewhere else?
Conclusion
Look at your answers to the questions above. Is this a good source of information for your report? Why or why not?
After you've completed this form, you must look at each section and then decide as a whole if the web page is valuable for your purposes. Web page evaluation is subjective -- that is, there is no definite right or wrong answer in many cases. You must be the decision maker, knowing the information you're looking for, and what kind of sources would be appropriate. You are the information finder and evaluator.


Other sites to explore regarding Webpage Evaluation:

University of Maryland's Checklist for Evaluation Websites

Widener's Sources for Evaluation of Information

How to Evaluate Information

Evaluating Websites from Cornel University Library

Evaluating Websites from Duke University