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History Research Guide

Evaluating Web Resources

Evaluating Web Sites

It is very important to evaluate any source that you use for research. It is especially important to evaluate web sites that you use for research. WHY? Because there is no one checking the reliablity of what's on the Internet. Anyone can put ANYTHING on the Internet.

There is a lot of very good information available on the Internet. There is also a lot information that's not appropriate for college research.

YOU have to be able to tell the difference!  

Here's how to evaluate web pages for your research:

1. Find out who the AUTHOR of the web page is.

  • If this information is provided, it will usually be at the top of the page or at the bottom of the page.
  • A good web page will give you information about the author, such as his or her educational and professional background.
  • The author's e-mail address should also be given, so that you can contact the author if necessary.

2. Find out what COMPANY OR ORGANIZATION sponsors/publishes the web page.

  • Look for this information:
    -In the web address (for example, www.sony.com is sponsored by Sony).
    -At the bottom of the web page.
    -On the web site's main/home page - there may be a link that says something like "About this page" or "Welcome" or "Who we are."
  • A good web page will give you information ABOUT the company or organization that publishes the site. It may tell you:
    -the company's mission (goal) and philosophy,
    -the company's history,
    -the company's address, telephone number, and e-mail address,
    -what other organizations the company is associated with, and
    -about people involved with the company.
  • Decide if this is a good place to get information about your topic. For example, is a cigarette company web site a good place to get information about lung cancer? Is a web page created by a 5th grade class a good place to find information about air pollution?

3. Look for a LIST OF SOURCES the author of the web page used in his or her own research. This may also be called a "bibliography" or "references" or "sources cited," and will usually be found at the end of the page. If there is a list of sources, are they good/trustworthy?

4. Try to determine the PURPOSE of the web page. Is it trying to educate you, entertain you, sell you something, or convince you of something?

5. Look at the ACCURACY of the web page.

-It is not always easy to know if the information on a web page is correct, so compare the information on the web page with information you have found from other sources, such as encyclopedias, books, and magazine and newspaper articles.
-This means web pages should be the LAST place you look for information for your research!
-Also look at the accuracy of the web page's grammar and spelling. If the author was not careful to make sure the grammar and spelling were correct, the author may not have made sure the information was correct either.