USM Libraries

Checklist for Evaluating Web Resources

Is the Web a good research tool? This question is dependent on the researcher's objective. As in traditional print resources one must use a method of critical analysis to determine its value. Here is a checklist for evaluating web resources to help in that determination.

Authority:

Is the information reliable?
Check the author's credentials and affiliation. Is the author an expert in the field?
Does the resource have a reputable organization or expert behind it?
Are the sources of information stated? Can you verify the information?
Can the author be contacted for clarification?
Check for organizational or author biases.

 

Scope:

Is the material at this site useful, unique, accurate or is it derivative, repetitious, or doubtful?
Is the information available in other formats?
Is the purpose of the resource clearly stated? Does it fulfill its purpose?
What items are included in the resource? What subject area, time period, formats or types of material are covered?
Is the information factual or opinion?
Does the site contain original information or simply links?
How frequently is the resource updated?
Does the site have clear and obvious pointers to new content?

 

Format and Presentation:

Is the information easy to get to? How many links does it take to get to something useful?
What is the quality of the graphical images? Do these images enhance the resource or distract from the content?
Is the target audience or intended users clearly indicated?
Is the arrangement of links uncluttered?
Does the site have its own search engine?
Is the site easily browsable or searchable?

 

Cost and Accessibility:

Is the site available on a consistent basis?
Is response time fast?
Does the site have a text-based alternative?
How many links lead to a dead-end?
Is this a fee-based site? Can non-members still have access to part of the site?
Must you register a name and password before using the site?

 

Other Tips:


Check the header and footer information to determine the author and source.
In the URL, a tilde ~ usually indicated a personal web directory rather than being part of the organization's official web site.
In order to verify an author's credentials, you may need to consult some printed sources such as Who's Who in America or the Biography Index.
Check and compare the web site to others which are both similar and different.

 

For more information on how to evaluate:

This site has an excellent bibliography of other internet and print resources on evaluating web resources. It is updated by a librarian, Nicole J. Auer, at Virginia Tech on a regular basis.

 

Citing Internet Resources:

Here is a bibliography of web sites you can use to help with citing Internet resources: