Issues and Controversies: Evaluating Websites

Guide to finding information on alternative viewpoints on controversial issues.
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Evaluating Websites

Depending on the purpose of your paper you may use on-line web sources.  By applying these five criteria you can decide if they are sources to use.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Authority
    Is the document author or site sponsor clearly identified?
    Does the site provide contact information for the author or sponsor?
  2. Objectivity or clear disclosure of advocacy
    Is the site's purpose clear (for example, to inform, entertain or persuade)
    Is the site explicit about declaring its point of view?
    Does the site indicate whether it is directed toward a specific audience?
  3. Coverage
    Are the topics covered by the site clear?
    Does the site exhibit a suitable depth and comprehensiveness for its purpose?
    Is sufficient evidence provides to support the ideas and options presented?
  4. Accuracy
    Are the sources of information stated?
    Do the facts appear to be accurate?
    Can you verify this information by comparing this source with other sources in the field?
  5. Currency
    Are the dates included in the website?
    Is the information current, or at least still relevant for the site's purpose?  For you purpose?

Criteria list taken in whole from: Ramage, Bean and Johnson. The Allyn and Becon Guide to Writing. 5th Ed. customized for Marquette University. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2009: 602.