Evaluating and Citing Sources

Evaluating and Citing Resources

Our students tend to think that any information they find on a web site, must be true.  We need to teach them to not only use appropriate search strategies, but to also critically examine any web site they do encounter.   A lesson plan or WebQuest on evaluating web resources is a great way to introduce students to the research process, to raise their awareness about information and media literacy, and to complement the study of plagiarism, citing sources, and copyright infringement.

Although there are many factors to consider when evaluating a web site, I like the way Kathy Schrock has broken it down into clear categories for students with the 5 W’s:


Who wrote the pages and are they an expert?

Is a biography of the author included?

How can you find out more about the author?



What does the author say is the purpose of the site?

What else might the author have in mind for the site?

What makes the site easy to use?



When was the site created?

When was the site last updated?



Where does the information come from?

Where can I look to find out more about the producer/sponsor?



Why is this information useful for my purpose?

Why should I use this information?

Why is this page better than another?

(See Kathy Schrock's Fabulous Critical Evaluation resources:   http://www.schrockguide.net/critical-evaluation.html )  

The following resources will help you to learn more about this topic, and to plan lessons and activities for students.

Articles and resources:

Alan November’s Information Literacy Resources


Evaluating WebPages: Techniques to Apply and Questions to Ask http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html

RADCAB - Your Vehicle for Information Evaluation


Tools to gather data on web sites:

Easy WhoIS Record http://www.easywhois.com/

Register.com http://www.register.com/retail/index.rcmx to check domain ownerships

The Wayback Machine – Internet Archives http://www.archive.org/index.php

Alexa.com site traffic and rankings http://www.alexa.com/

Google Advanced Search, who is linked to a site and other operators: http://www.google.com/help/operators.html

Citation Makers to use with students:

Creating Citations http://www.noodletools.com/

Citation Machine http://citationmachine.net/ (high school and above)

Easy Bib http://www.easybib.com/

For reference:  OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/