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American History: Survey

Web Research Guide

Criteria for Evaluating Web Sites

  • 1. Who wrote/published the information on the site?
  • Because anyone can publish on the Web, it's important that you first identify the source—the author of the information on the site. Ask yourself:
    • Who is the author/publisher? Is that source clearly identified on the site?
    • Can I contact the author through an e-mail, phone number, or a mailing address?
    • What are the author's credentials? Is he or she an expert in the subject I am researching?
    • Is the site created or sponsored by a reputable organization? If so, can I confirm that the organization is a credible, authoritative source of information?
  • 2. What information and resources does the site provide?
  • The information you find on a Web site does not necessarily pass through the hands of editors, fact-checkers, or reviewers, so it's up to you to determine the value of the site's content and presentation. Ask yourself:
  • Content
    • What is the site's purpose: to persuade, inform, or entertain? Does the site achieve its purpose?
    • Is the information on the site objective or biased? The site should present several authoritative viewpoints on the subject and not just one person's opinion.
    • Does the site provide thorough coverage of the topic? Does it reference or link to other in-depth resources?
    • Is the information on the site well written? Are there misspellings or grammatical errors?
    • Does the site provide a Works Cited page or a bibliography? Can I verify that the resources the author consulted are reliable, thorough, and objective?
    • Does the site feature graphics, video and audio clips, or animations? Do these multimedia elements help explain or clarify the site's topic?
    • Is the site well organized and easy to navigate? Can I find the information I am looking for within a few clicks?
    • Is the site visually appealing? Does the design suit the overall purpose?
    • Are multimedia elements used sparingly and for a specific purpose? Or are they distracting?
    • Does the site have any advertisements or banners that might distract me from my purpose for visiting?
    • Does the site take a long time to load?