Research on the Web: Evaluating the Sites

Evaluating Web Sites
Traditional Evaluation Criteria
Print Journals, Books, and NewspapersWorld Wide Web
#1. Accuracy

1.How reliable and free from error is the information?
2.Are there editors and fact checkers?

Example: editorial staffs of journals and daily newspapers
Accuracy of Web Resources

1.Almost anyone can publish on the Web
2.Many Web resources not verified by editors and/or
fact checkers
3.Web Standards to ensure accuracy yet to be fully developed

Example: AIDS FACTS !?!
#2: Authority

1.What are the author’s qualifications for writing on this subject?
2.How reputable is the publisher?

Example: scholarly book publishers
Authority of Web Resources

1.Often difficult to determine authorship of Web Sources
2.If author’s name is listed, his/her qualifications
frequently absent
3.Publisher responsibility often not indicated

Example: Tobacco Control Archives
#3: Objectivity

1.Is the information presented with a minimum of bias?
2.To what extent is the information trying to sway the opinion of the audience?

Example: most scientific studies
Objectivity of Web Resources

1.Goals/aims of persons or groups presenting material
often not clearly stated
2.Web often functions as a “virtual soapbox”

Example: National Rifle Organization
#4: Currency

1.Is the content of the work up to date?
2.Is the publication date clearly labeled?

Example: most newspapers and journals
Currency of Web Resources

1.Dates not always included on Web pages
2.If included, a date may have various meanings:
a. Date information first written
b. Date information placed on Web
c. Date information last revised
Example: Webster's Dictionary
#5: Coverage
1.What topics are included in the work?
2.Are the topics included explored in depth?

Example: peer reviewed journals
Coverage of Web Resources
1.Web coverage may differ from print coverage
2.Often hard to determine extent of Web coverage

Example: CNN [Cable News Network]
The Web as a Research Tool: Evaluation Techniques
by Jan Alexander and Marsha Tate
Reference Librarians Wolfgram Memorial Library Widener University Chester, PA
Copyright Jan Alexander & Marsha Ann Tate, 1996-1998