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Website evaluation



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  • 1. Is that Sitegood enough to Cite?
  • 2. There is so much information out there!
  • 3. How are you going to know if a website is good enough to use in your report?
  • 4. It’s Okay to be Confused! There are billions of websites out there Many of them are not worthy of your time and don’t belong in your bibliographies! Sometimes it’s very hard to tell treasure from trash Sometimes Web developers don’t want you to understand the difference
  • 5. Remember:Anyone can publish anything on the Web! It is your job, as aresearcher, to look for quality!
  • 6. Yeah, and how can we be sure our teacher will think it’s goodOkay, so how enough to cite?do we know ifa site is good?
  • 8. CREDIBILITY / AUTHORITY : Who is the author? What are his or her credentials? Education? Experience? Affiliation? Does the author’s experience really qualify him or her as an expert? Does he or she offer first-hand credibility? (For instance, a Vietnam veteran or a witness to Woodstock?) Who actually published this page? Is this a personal page or is it part of the site belonging to a major institution? (Clues pointing to a personal page: ~ tilde, %, users, members) Is the page hosted by a free server like AOL, Tripod, Geocities?
  • 9. But what if I can’t find anyauthor information?
  • 10. Look for Credibility Clues!· Words and phrases to look for: · About us, Who Am I, FAQs, For More, Company Information, Profiles, Our Staff, Home· E-mail the author · If you have no information other than an e-mail link, write a polite e-mail asking for more information.
  • 11. More Credibility Clues (What do others think?)Do a link check · In Google type link:siteaddress · Your results will show which other sites have chosen to link to this page. If respectable institutions have linked to a site, that provides a clue about the site’s credibility.Does the site appear in major subject directories like Librarian’s Index to the Internet (
  • 12. Truncate the URLDelete characters in the address line up to the next slash mark to see if a main page offers more information about who is responsible for publishing the page you are interested in.Go from:·····
  • 13. Still more Credibility CluesIf you have an author’s name but no further information about credentials, Search the name in quotation marks in a search engine or online database On the Web, include words like profile, resume, or C.V. (curriculum vitae--an academic resume) to narrow your name search You might also include the name of a college or association you can connect with the person Search the name in biographical sources on- and offline Ask your teacher-librarian for help
  • 14. ACCURACY: Can facts, statistics, or other information be verified through other sources? Based on your knowledge, does the information seem accurate? Is the information inconsistent with information you learned from other sources? Is the information second hand? Has it been altered? Do there appear to be errors on the page (spelling, grammar, facts)?
  • 15. R ELIABILITY: Does the source present a certain view or bias? Is the page affiliated with an organization that has a particular political or social agenda? Is the page selling a product? Was the information found in a paid placement or sponsored result from the search engine? Information is seldom neutral. Sometimes a bias is useful for persuasive essays or debates. Understanding bias is important.
  • 16. R ELEVANCE:Does this information directly support my hypothesis/thesis or help to answer my question?Can I eliminate or ignore it because it simply doesn’t help me?
  • 17. D ATE:When was this information created?When was it revised?Are these dates meaningful in terms of your information needs?Has the author of the page stopped maintaining it?(Be suspicious of undated material.)
  • 18. S OURCES BEHIND THE TEXT: Did the author bother to document his or her sources and use reliable, credible sources? Were those references popular, scholarly, reputable? Are those sources real? Have you or your librarian heard of or been able to verify them? Is the material reproduced (accurately) from another publication? What kind of links did the author choose? Are the hyperlinks reliable, valuable? Do the links work?
  • 19. S COPE / PURPOSE:Does this source address my hypothesis/thesis/question in a comprehensive or superficial way? Is it a scholarly or popular treatment?Is it material I can read and understand? Is it too simple? Is it too challenging?Who is the intended audience?Why was this page created? To inform or explain? To persuade? To sell?
  • 20. What can you learn from a URL?You can use the end, or suffix of a domain name to help you judge the validity of the information and the potential bias of a website.This strategy is only a guideline. People can easily purchase domains that do not reflect their actual purpose.
  • 21. URLs as clues to content .com = commercial sites  .mil = U.S. military site (vary in their credibility)  .net = networked .gov = U.S. government service provider, site Internet administrative .org = organization, site often non-profit. Some  .museum = museum have strong bias and  .name = individual agendas Internet user .edu = school or  .biz = a business university site (is it K- 12? By a student?  .pro = professional’s By a scholar?) site  ~ = personal site
  • 22. What do their URLs reveal about these sites?
  • 23. Practice checking foraccuracy with a few of these sites! California’s Velcro Crop Under Challenge Facts About Series Republic of Cascadia: Bureau of Sasquatch Affairs Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division For more examples:
  • 24. Let’s Analyze this SiteCalifornia’s Velcro Crop Under Challenge
  • 25. Web Page Evaluation Checklist 1. Go to Google and search a controversial topic, such as: prions danger or nuclear armageddon or "stem cells" abortion 2. Use this Checklist to evaluate some of the search results. Title of page you are evaluating: Title of page you are evaluating:1. Look at the URL  ~ or %, or users, members, orPersonal page or site? people  ~ or %, or users, members, or peopleWhat type of domain is it?  co  org/ne edu  m t  co  org/ne edu  gov/mil/us m t gov/mil/us  non-US________  non-US________Appropriate for the content?  other:  other:Published by entity that makes sense? Publisher or Domain Name entity: Publisher or Domain Name entity:Does it match the name of the site?2. Scan the perimeter of the page  E-mail  Name:  E-mail  Name:Who wrote the page?Dated? Date ________ Current enough? Date ________ Current enough?Credentials on this subject? Evidence? Evidence?(Truncate back the URL if no useful links.)3. Examine the contentSources well documented?Complete? If 2nd-hand information, isit not altered or forged?Links to more resources? Do theywork?Evidence of bias?4. What do others say? Many or few links? Many or few links?Who links to it? Opinions expressed? Opinions expressed?Hint: In Google search: link:all.or.part.of.urlIs the page rated well in a directory? or or about.comWhich blogs link to it? What dothey say? up the author in Google5. Does it all add up?Why was the page put on the Web?  Inform  Persuade  Sell  Inform  Persuade  Sell Other: Other:Possibly ironic? Satire or parody? BOTTOM LINE: Is the web page appropriate for your purpose? Teaching Library, UC Berkeley – Spring 2008
  • 26. Remember, the free Web is not your only choice?Did you use print sources?Did you search subscription databases?Did you check with your teacher- librarian for advice?
  • 27. What about Wikipedia?What is it? Where does the information come from?When does it make sense to use it?When are other sources better choices?
  • 28. So, why should we care about all of this?
  • 29. There are bigger questions in life! You will be using information to make important decisions! Which car should I buy? Which doctor should I choose? Should my child have this surgery? Should I take this medication?· You want to be able to ensure the information you choose is reliable, credible, current, balanced, relevant, and accurate!