Evaluating websites

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Evaluating websites

  1. 1. Evaluating Websites Things to consider and do
  2. 2. It’s confusing sometimes! •There are billions of websites out there •Many of them are not worthy of your time and don’t belong in your bibliographies! •Often it’s hard to tell treasure from trash •Sometimes Web developers don’t want you to understand the difference
  3. 3. Remember: Anyone can publish anything on the Web! It is your job, as a researcher, to look for quality!
  4. 4. Here’s how people decide to trust... •Looks nice (design) •Logical, clear (understandable) •An expert should know (credentials) •An expert approves (vetting) •Asserts expertise (tone, word choice, citations) •Been right before (tradition, reputation) •Everybody says so (opinion polls, surveys,voting) •Me and my friends agree (tags, blogs) •I found it (indexed, Page Rank relevance) •That’s the answer I wanted (feeling, intuition)
  5. 5. The Ugly At worst the Internet can lead you to misinformation that could land you in real trouble. Unfortunately there are a lot of sharks on the Internet - people who want to trick you, misinform you, deceive you and defraud you. Some web sites and emails can be real crime scenes. Be skeptical, not paranoid!
  6. 6. Remember, it’s up to you to make sure you don’t degrade your work by quoting misinformation from the Internet.  If you’re in doubt, leave it out!
  7. 7. What can the URL tell you? Techniques for Web Evaluation : 1. Before you leave the list of search results -glean all you can from the URLs of each page. 2. .edu? .org? .net? .com? Which will help you? 3. Then choose pages most likely to be reliable and authentic.
  8. 8. “The word author and authority go hand in hand.” --Betsy Byers What do you think??
  9. 9. 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 Iraq veteran or a witness to 9-11?) 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)
  10. 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. 11. What do others think? Do a link check 1. Find out what other web pages link to this page. –a. Use alexa.com URL information: –Simply paste the url into alexa.com's search box. –You will see, depending on the volume of traffic to the page: –Traffic rank –Subjective reviews –"Site statistics" including some page history, sites that link to the page –Contact/ownership info for the domain name link:siteaddress
  12. 12. Use a Directory Look the page up in a reputable directory that evaluates its contents. (Librarians Index to the Internet, Infomine, About.com, Academic Info , or a specialized directory you trust). INSTRUCTIONS: Go to the directory and search for the title of the site you are investigating. Look for the publisher if you can't find a specific page from a larger site.
  13. 13. 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)?
  14. 14. RELIABILITY: Does the source present a particular view or bias? Is the page affiliated with an organization that has a particular political or social agenda? Is the page selling a product? Can you find other material to offer balance so that you can see the bigger picture? 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!
  15. 15. DATE : •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.)
  16. 16. SOURCES BEHIND THE TEXT: •Were those references popular, scholarly, reputable? •Did the author bother to document his or her sources? use reliable, credible sources? •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?
  17. 17. S COPE / PURPOSE: •Does this source address my hypothesis/thesis question in a comprehensive or peripheral 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?
  18. 18. RELEVANCE : •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?
  19. 19. There are bigger questions in life! You will constantly be using information to make important decisions! Which car/laptop should I buy? Which college/phone should I choose? You want to be able to ensure the information you choose is reliable, credible, current, balanced, relevant, and accurate!
  20. 20. Just as you evaluate your sources . . . Your teacher will evaluate your work based on the quality of the sources you select. Evaluate carefully. Don’t settle for good enough! Quality always counts!
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