Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research Toolkit: Quickly evaluate a website

 Related Guides: Quickly Evaluate a Book, Quickly Evaluate an Article

 

Before you decide to use a website, take a few minutes to evaluate it for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose.

Criteria Questions to Ask Analysis

 


Currency

 

  • What is the “created date” for this site?

  • What is the “last update” date for this site?

  • Does it appear that this article is up-to-date? 

  • Every credible website includes the date that it was first created and the date of last update.
  • Ask yourself, do I need more current information than what is being presented on this website?

 

 
 
 
 
Relevance

 

  • Does the site thoroughly cover the subject matter?

  • Are there links to additional information?

  • Is the information relevant to the subject?

  • Sometimes, this is difficult to determine if you lack a background in the subject area.
  • Copyright laws prevent web authors from posting the same material found in print journals and books for free.
  • Sometimes, websites are designed for fun

 

 

 
 
 
Authority

 

  • What kind of site is this? (.com, .org,.edu. or .gov)

  • Who is responsible for the content on the site? (Author name or sponsor name)

  • Is there any indication the author or sponsor is an expert on this topic?

  • Does anyone review this site for accuracy/veracity?

Hints

  • Look at the About Us, FAQ, Philosophy, Biography links.
  • Look up the author in any search engine.
  • Look at the domain name: .edu, .com, .gov, .org, .net to provide clues about the group or entity providing the website.

  • Unfortunately, most websites do not provide an author.
  • Even when you find an author's name, no credentials are provided.
  • Sponsorship is not always given.

 

Accuracy

 

  • Do they provide references (citations) to the information?

  • Can you look up where the author found the information presented – are there links provided for this purpose?

  • Do you see any indication that edits, revisions, or retractions have been made?

  • There are no standards for checking the accuracy of websites. Anyone can publish on the web.
  • Unlike print sources, the web rarely has an editor or fact checker.
 
 
 
 
 
Purpose
  • Why was this written?(Entertain, Persuade or Inform)
  • Does the author/publisher make money off of this publication?

  • Does the article provide you with an abstract defining its purpose?

  • With the web, it is important to know who is providing the information so that you understand their point of view or bias.
  • Corporate websites always present themselves in the most positive light.
  • Information should always be accurate and documented