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How to evaluate websites

Information found on the Internet requires particular attention, as anyone can create a website and post information without review or consequence. It is essential to examine and determine the validity and accuracy of the information published on websites.

Authority/authorship

  • Is the author or organization clearly identified?
  • What is their particular expertise on the topic? Many sites with reputable authors will include biographical and contact information.

Currency/timeliness

  • When was the website created?
  • Is the site updated and maintained? Check for broken links, or links to less reputable or abandoned sites – these are signs of a dated website.

Coverage/relevance

  • Is the topic covered in-depth with research to support it? You should be able to cite the information with confidence that it is valid and substantive.

Purpose/audience

  • Is the website academic, professional, commercial, political or "click-bait"? The sole purpose of "click-bait" is to gain clicks and generate advertising revenue.
  • Is the information meant to educate and inform, to persuade, or to sell and make a profit?
  • Check for advertisements and sidebars that lead to unrelated sites.

Accuracy/documentation

  • Is there a bibliography or reference list of sources, including links to other relevant web pages?
  • Are various sides or opinions on a topic or argument covered?
  • Does the site voice extreme views or use inflammatory language? These are characteristic of propaganda.

Objectivity/thoroughness

  • Does the site acknowledge affiliations or associations with universities, political parties, or social, scientific or government groups? Any arguments or conclusions should be supported by evidence and verifiable sources.
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page last updated on: Wednesday 22 November 2017
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