Evaluating Websites

With hundreds of millions of documents on the Internet, there's plenty of information to choose from.  But when doing research on the web, be sure and look at your results more carefully! Remember that the information on the web is not subject to the same standards as a published book or magazine article.  Almost anyone can put almost anything on the web. Web documents are not necessarily reviewed, edited, or even proof read. Some web pages are written by experts, but others are written by those with little or no knowledge on the subject.  

Does the Web page you found ROCC? 
Use the criteria Reliability Objective Creator Currency to evaluate the sources you find on the Web.


The site is well written without spelling or grammatical errors. The document's content is comprehensive and the facts stated agree with the other information you have found.  There is a bibliography of reputable sources.

Is the information on this site balanced or biased? >> F.A.I.R.

How in-depth is the information on this page? >> Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions
Would you find a more in-depth examination of the topic on this page  or consulting the research studies referenced in this science brief?
    • Evaluate the content and compare it with other sources
    • If the source is a summary, review, news or other brief on a research study, book, or other source, consult and use that source in your paper. 
    • Does the author reference outside sources with citations or links or give unsubstantiated opinion?
    • Look for emotional or inflammatory language, i.e. "Everyone must stop this now!!!!"
    • Does the author acknowledge other viewpoints?
    • Are different viewpoints fairly presented?

The document's purpose is clearly stated.  Arguments and assumptions are logical and well-supported. The presentation of the material is objective and any bias plainly stated. Other viewpoints are acknowledged. The language is not emotionally charged.

Does this organization have a reason to try to convince readers of its point of view? 
    • Read through the document. Why was this document written? 
    • Is the purpose clearly stated or presented?
    • Does the author or organization have a particular reason to try to convince the reader of its point of view?


An authoritative source lists the author's name along with his or her credentials and background. An organization affiliated with the site is reputable.  Contact information, such as address, phone number or email address, is given for the author or organization. The site is well designed and easy to navigate.

Is the creator of this site an authority on the topic? >> The Origin of AIDS 

Check the "About Us" page on this site: The Institute for Historical Review
Now Google the  sponsoring organization. What do others have to say about the IHR?
    • Look  for the name of the author or sponsoring organization. It may be necessary to scroll through the entire document looking  for a clue.  The author's  name or sponsoring organization are very often at the end of the document. There may be a link to this information, such as one that says "About Us."
    • If little or no information is given, check any links that say  "Home," or "Back" or "Main page" to see if you can follow a trail to a responsible party.
    • Look at the web site's URL or Internet address, to try and determine the author's affiliation.  Delete the URL down to the basic domain (.edu, .org, .gov, .com, etc.) to bring you to the main site. What is the educational institution, organization, government department or agency, or company?  URL's with a ~ in them often indicate a personal site. Education sites (.edu) often allow students to post their papers or projects to the web, so look at the entire URL carefully.
    • Other information about the author or organization might be found by searching magazine or newspaper databases, such as EBSCOhost for more information about, or articles by, your author.  Or try a web search engine for other pages by that author. A print source, such as Who's Who in America, can also be helpful.  Ask your librarian for assistance if necessary.

There should be a date and it should indicate what the date actually means, i.e.  is it the date the information was originally written, first posted to the web, or last revised. The links should be current.

Is this source current enough for the topic? >> ReCAPP
    • Look for the date the document was first written or published, the date the information was placed on the Web, or the date the document or Web page was last revised. Is the publication date suitable for your needs? 
    • Are the links current, or are there many dead links?

See Also: The Internet Detective - online tutorial