BIO150Y Optimal Information Foraging  

Evaluating Web Sites

Buyer beware!

Why bother? I don’t have time!

Evaluating information Anybody can publish anything on the Web. Unlike journal articles and books there is no quality filtering or editorial control. It may take one second to find a zillion Web sites, but can you trust the information?

Print this checklist to help you determine if a source is appropriate for your research.

Checklist of Questions for Evaluating Web Sites (8 KB PDF)

Use the following criteria:

Evaluating web sites

Who is the author? e.g. high school student vs. Harvard professor? Are credentials or qualifications listed? Is there an e-mail address or other contact information?

Purpose & Content:
Is the purpose: to provide research and scholarly information? to provide educational or factual information? to entertain? to advertise, market or sell something? to advocate ideas? to persuade you? Look closely at the content. Information is rarely neutral since data can be selected to represent certain points of view. Take the time to explore the Web site to determine if the information is subjective (biased) or objective (factual), or mixed. Check links such as a Mission Statement or About Us or Who We Are?

What are the qualifications of the author(s)? Are there other sites listed, a bibliography or acknowledgements, etc?

When was the Web site last updated? Are the links working? Do they lead to outdated pages? Don't assume the most recent information is on the Web.

Design, Organization and Ease-of-Use:
Is the site slow to load or difficult to navigate or read?

Can you evaluate a Web site?

Let's evaluate three Web sites...  Next

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