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Evaluating Internet Resources

Prepared by Lori Thornton, Information Resources Librarian
Cincinnati Christian University


Revised April 19, 1999


Authorship:



  • Is the author or sponsor a recognized authority on the subject?

  • If you are unfamiliar with the author:

    • Does the site contain information on the author’s professional and educational background? (Information at .edu sites can be either a professor’s or a student’s.)

    • Did you link to the document from a trustworthy link?

    • Look at the URL to see where it originates.

    • Look up the author in another search engine.



Content:



  • Are there footnotes, a bibliography, or other citations?

  • Does the author’s work show that he has knowledge of the theories, schools of thoughts, and leading authorities in the field?

  • Is there a copyright notation on the site?

  • Has the site received awards? (e.g. Magellan Four Star reviews, GNN Best of the Net, etc.; Note: some awards are not based on merit.)

  • If the topic discussed is controversial, is the controversial element acknowledged. Does the author show how it fits in the broader area of research in this area?

  • Can the information be verified through the use of primary resources?

  • Has this site been included as a link on other authoritative web sites?

Currency:



  • Does the document show the date of the studies from which statistical information was drawn?

  • Does the document show when it was last updated? (Note that some people don’t have their documents set to automatically update when modified and forget to do so; however, you can usually tell how current the information is by viewing it.)

  • If there is not a “last date modified” notation, view the directory on which the file resides to check this information.

Notes on Advocacy Pages:


Advocacy pages are developed by organizations wishing to persuade others to their point of view on certain issues. Examples include the National Organization for Women and National Rifle Association. These sites are wonderful sources of information for persuasive speeches and papers, but one should bear in mind that these pages present only one side of the issue. For balance, one should also look at pages developed by advocates of the other opinion in an issue.


Here are some tips for evaluating advocacy pages:



  • Is it clear what organization is sponsoring the page?

  • Can the legitimacy of the page be verified? (Snail mail addresses as well as e-mail addresses should be included.)

  • Is it the official site of the organization or a homepage of an enthusiastic member?

  • Are the goals of the organization clearly stated on the page or on a link to the page?

  • From what sources is the factual information derived? (Government-sponsored versus organization-sponsored)

  • Has the content of the page received the official approval of the organization?

Other Issues



  • Is the host web site stable?

  • Is this page likely to move? (Persons who place pages on free sites such as geocities are likely to move their site as it grows or to switch between free web page providers.)

  • Is the content in a format which requires a special viewer (such as a Tiff or PDF format) and is the viewer available?

  • If sound and video clips are included on the site, are the required viewers available?

  • Is the information on an outdated means of access such as gopher?

  • Will your browser/CPU handle the amount of graphics on the site?



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