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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Evaluating a Website- Checklist: Home

The Internet provides access to billions of webpages from around the world. How can you tell what is accurate and reliable? Evaluating the website to ascertain its purpose, audience, author, coverage, currency, accuracy, and reliability will help. The questions in this checklist will guide you in deciding if a website is credible.

Questions Regarding Purpose

1a. What is the purpose of the page? To inform, explain, persuade, or sell a product? Is it educational or commercial?

1b. How does this purpose affect the credibility of the page?

2. Does the page present facts, opinions, or propaganda?

3. Does the author use other sources to support the information presented?

4. Are there other viewpoints presented? For example, are other view points refuted with evidence?

5. If the page is sponsored by a company or organization, does this organization hold a specific viewpoint that might cause the presented information to be biased?

6. Is there advertising on the page? Could the advertisers have influence over the content of the page?

Questions Regarding Responsibility

1. Is this a personal or official association? Is it an agency, institution, or other organizational Webpage?

2a. Does an author take responsibility for making the page?

2b. Does the author’s academic history or work history make them an authority on the presented information?

2c. Have you seen this author's name in other sources? (Include author searches in scholarly/academic databases. Other sources can be reference resources like encyclopedias and other various biographical tools.)

2d. Is the author affiliated with a larger institution?

2e. Is there contact information for the author, such as an email address, mailing address, or phone number?

3a. Is there a sponsor? Are they reputable?

3b. If there is a sponsor, do they have a reason for this website? Commercial vs. Educational?

4a. Check for link information about the author and/or sponsor.

4b. If the page includes neither a signature nor indicates a sponsor, is there any other way to determine its origin? For example, does the page URL end with a .com, .edu, .gov, .org., and so on?

Questions Regarding Audience

1. Who is this page for? Experts, novices, professionals, or hobbyists?

2. How does the intended audience effect the reliability of the information?

Questions Regarding Coverage

1a. Does the information on the page update, substantiate, or add new information to what you have already found on your topic?

1b. Is this primary or secondary information?

1c. Does the page provide information that is not available in print?

1d. Can you verify the information with another source? Also, can you find a source with a differing viewpoint that verifies the information?

2. Is there any selection criteria for links included on the site? You will need to assess the credibility of linked pages as well.

3. What topics are covered?

4. What does this page offer that is not found elsewhere?

5. What is its intrinsic value?

6. How in-depth is the material?

Questions Regarding Accuracy

1. Is the page free of grammatical, spelling, or typographical errors? These types of errors may indicate that there are errors in the facts as well. Is there an editor or someone who verifies or checks the information?

Questions Regarding Currency

1a. When was this page created?

1b. When was it last updated? If done, when was the last update?

2. How current are the links? Have some expired or moved?

3. Is the page relevant enough to meet the needs of your topic?

Questions Regarding Reliability

1. Are the sources of information scholarly or personal opinion?

2. Are there links for reputable sites or information?

3. Is copyright for other works respected, or are there indications of plagiarism in the source? Are references cited or bibliography included?

4. Check for external Webpages that link or contain a specific URL by searching the [URL]at http://www.alltheweb.com.

5. Find pages with 1 or more links in Google by searching link [URL].

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References:

1.Beck, Susan E. The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Evaluation Criteria Reference & Research Services Department, New Mexico State University Library. Updated February 21, 2019. http://nmsu.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=36563723. Accessed October 6, 2014.

2. Evaluating Internet Sources: How do I... Undergraduate Research Guides. Undergraduate Library, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Updated August 29, 2012. https://www.library.illinois.edu/ugl/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2017/07/evaluate_internet.pdf. Accessed April 20, 2019

3. Critically Analyzing Information Sources. Division of Reference Services, Olin Kroch Uris Libraries, Cornell University Library. Updated May 5, 2015. https://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/content/critically-analyzing-information-sources. Accessed October 6, 2014.

4. Evaluating Internet Resources. The Sheridan Libraries of the Johns Hopkins University. 1996, updated 2010. Updated January 14, 2019. Updated August 22, 2019. https://guides.library.jhu.edu/evaluate/internet-resources. Accessed October 6, 2014.

5. Evaluating Resources. UC Berkeley– Teaching Library Internet Workshops. 1996. Updated August 26, 2019. http://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/evaluating-resources. Accessed October 6, 2014.

6. Evaluating Web Pages: Questions to Consider. Division of Reference Services, Olin Kroch Uris Libraries, Cornell University Library. 1998. Updated March 20, 2019. http://guides.library.cornell.edu/evaluating_Web_pages. Accessed October 6, 2014.

7. Evaluating Information Sources. University Libraries, University of Louisville. Updated February18,2003. https://library.louisville.edu/ekstrom/evaluation. Accessed October 6, 2014