Photo: Shilling Community Education Center

Evaluating Internet Resources

The Internet

The Internet is enormous with millions of web pages and hundreds of new pages being added every day. It can be a confusing place, especially since anyone can post information to the Internet on any topic. But the Internet can also be an excellent source for finding materials for research papers and projects of all types and subjects. However it is essential that any Web site be evaluated before information from it is used.

How to Evaluate a Web Site

Here are 5 areas for beginning Web site evaluation.

1. Identify the site's domain - .edu, .com, .net, .gov, or .biz

  • .edu are part of a college or university's Web site
  • .gov are sites sponsored by the federal government
  • .com, .net and .biz are mostly commercial sites
  • .org an organization, or advocacy group, usually non-profit.

2. Who is the author of the site? This can be a person or a group.

  • What are the credentials and qualifications of the author or owner?
  • Look for the author's or owner's name and information at the top or bottom of the page or in a section titled, "About us."

3. Is the material accurate?

  • How accurate is the information? Does it match up with what you found in print sources?
  • Are sources of facts or statistics cited?
  • Does the site provide a bibliography or links to other sites?
  • Does the information appear to be unbiased and fair? If it is one-sided will it still work for your research?
  • Does the page contain advertising? Can you distinguish between the advertising and the rest of the site contents?

4. Is the site current?

  • Compared to your print sources, does the information appear up to date?
  • When was the page last updated? Look for a date at the bottom of the homepage.
  • Are the links current? Do most of them still work?

5. Is the site easy to use?

  • How well is it organized? Is there a site map or index?
  • Is it easy to navigate? Can you get to the homepage? Look for navigation bars usually on the top, bottom or sides of each page.
  • Is the site searchable? Does it have its own search engine?

Online Resources for Evaluating Internet Sites

Evaluating Internet Sources - Millikin University Staley Library

Has both a detailed guide to evaluation and a quick guide for review.

A brief web based tutorials focusing on the five areas of evaluation

Evaluating Internet Sites 101: an Interactive Tutorial - University at Albany, University Libraries

A web based interactive tutorial that covers all aspects of evaluation in-depth

An excellent guide to evaluating Web sites with lots of examples of good and bad Web sites for each area of evaluation.