Evaluating Webpages
Being able to critically evaluate the information you encounter on
the web is a hugely valuable research skill. Why? Becau...
Being a critical consumer of information is helpful
not only in our classes, but also in our daily lives.
Just as you need...
Consider these five criteria whenever evaluating web-based
information for potential use in your college-level research.
A...
Have you noticed how political advertisements on television end
with “I’m [insert a candidate], and I approved this messag...
So how do you determine whether the information on a website
is accurate?
Accuracy
Authority
Objectivity
Currency
Coverage...
See if the information is cited. What information sources does
the webpage site? A web-based article that includes referen...
What about the website’s authority?
Once we know who’s responsible for a website or web-based
article, we can ask: are the...
Ask yourself:
• What are the author or organization’s credentials?
• Are any credentials even provided?
• Is the author qu...
When we talk about objectivity, we are largely talking about the
author’s objectives in producing and publishing the infor...
Also pay close attention to the advertising that appears
on a website. The purpose of some websites is to sell a
particula...
Ask yourself…
• Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
• Is the information well-researched? Is there a
bibliogr...
Some research projects require very up-to-date
information in order to be accurate. For example, if you
are researching pr...
Ask yourself:
• When was the information published or produced? Many
webpages, though not all, will note the date of their...
Earlier when we talked about objectivity, we also talked about bias.
While bias is not inherently bad, you do not want you...
Accuracy
Authority
Objectivity
Currency
Coverage
Introduction
Remember, if you need assistance, ask a librarian.
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Evaluating Webpages

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Evaluating Webpages

  1. 1. Evaluating Webpages
  2. 2. Being able to critically evaluate the information you encounter on the web is a hugely valuable research skill. Why? Because so much information can be found online, and not everything you read is true. Sometimes information can be narrowly accurate, but still be so biased, selective, or leading as to make the information essentially useless for research purposes. Or the information may have once been accurate, but is now simply too out-of-date to be useful. Sometimes the authors are not experts on what they are writing about. And sometimes the problem is not the accuracy of the information you encounter, but the lack of research-quality detail and substance. Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction Introduction
  3. 3. Being a critical consumer of information is helpful not only in our classes, but also in our daily lives. Just as you need the information in your college papers to be based on reliable, quality sources, you also want the health advice, product reviews, and other kinds of information you personally use to be reliable. Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  4. 4. Consider these five criteria whenever evaluating web-based information for potential use in your college-level research. Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
  5. 5. Have you noticed how political advertisements on television end with “I’m [insert a candidate], and I approved this message”? The reasoning behind the law requiring this tag line is fairly simple. If a candidate isn’t held personally accountable for the accuracy of the ads he or she runs, they’re more likely to make wild and irresponsible claims. By attaching their name (and reputation) to the ad, the candidate is less likely to exaggerate the truth and unfairly smear their opponent. That is the thinking, anyway. The broader point is: Who is accepting responsibility for the quality of the information on a given webpage? Is there author or webmaster contact information provided? Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  6. 6. So how do you determine whether the information on a website is accurate? Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  7. 7. See if the information is cited. What information sources does the webpage site? A web-based article that includes references or citations is far more likely to be accurate because the information can be verified by going to the original sources. If a website presents statistics, do the authors say where the statistics come from? Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  8. 8. What about the website’s authority? Once we know who’s responsible for a website or web-based article, we can ask: are they an authority on the topic? Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  9. 9. Ask yourself: • What are the author or organization’s credentials? • Are any credentials even provided? • Is the author qualified to write about this topic? What is their area of expertise? Is the author affiliated with an educational institution? Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  10. 10. When we talk about objectivity, we are largely talking about the author’s objectives in producing and publishing the information. Why does the website exist? What are the biases of the authors or the organization behind the information? Bias isn’t necessarily disqualifying. Just because an author or organization has a particular point of view doesn’t mean that their information is inaccurate or lacks authority. The very reason that many groups exist is to advocate for a particular position, and to that end they often collect or generate a lot of high-quality research. That said, you will want to be aware of the biases of the authors or groups. And in order to write a well-rounded paper, you will likely want to collect information from other side sof the issue as well. When all your information comes from just one side of a debate, your paper may lack balance and perspective. Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  11. 11. Also pay close attention to the advertising that appears on a website. The purpose of some websites is to sell a particular product. While they may host articles as well, the articles are basically just ads for the product. Also, companies will occasionally run elaborate advertisements on legitimate websites that can look very similar to articles, but are in fact just promotional materials. Do not be fooled. Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  12. 12. Ask yourself… • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda? • Is the information well-researched? Is there a bibliography or citations or references at the end? • Is the author objective and un-biased? You will always want to be aware of what the author’s bias is. Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  13. 13. Some research projects require very up-to-date information in order to be accurate. For example, if you are researching present-day population statistics, you won’t want to use the 1980 census figures. When we talk about currency, we are talking about how current the information is in a book or article. For some projects older information might be fine. But for many research topics, currency is a major concern. Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  14. 14. Ask yourself: • When was the information published or produced? Many webpages, though not all, will note the date of their most recent update at the bottom of the page. • How many dead links are on the site? This is important to check, as millions of websites have been created and abandoned in the last 20 years. • If statistics are provided, when were they produced or gathered? Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  15. 15. Earlier when we talked about objectivity, we also talked about bias. While bias is not inherently bad, you do not want your total pool of resources to reflect the same bias. Otherwise you are only getting part of the picture. In part, this is what “coverage” asks: what part of the picture are you getting with your information resource? Is the material presented at an appropriate level? Does it extensively or minimally cover the topic? Does the resource add new information or does it simply compile information easily found elsewhere? Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction
  16. 16. Accuracy Authority Objectivity Currency Coverage Introduction Remember, if you need assistance, ask a librarian.

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