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Topic Suggestions: Evaluate

A guide to topics that could be developed into research projects or speeches, arranged by subject areas or categories

A Look @ Website Evaluation

Remember to evaluate websites in the context of your information needs.

What can the URL tell you?

  • Is it somebody's personal page?

  • What type of domain does it come from?
    (educational .edu, nonprofit .org, commercial .com, government .gov, etc.)

  • Who published the page (in the ? Does that make sense for your purposes?

Scan the perimeter of the page, looking for answers to these questions:

  • Who is the author? Look for links that say "About us," "Philosophy," "Background," "Biography".

  • Is the page dated? Is it current enough for your purposes?

  • Can you find out anything about the author's credentials on this subject?

Look for indicators of quality information:

  • Are sources documented with footnotes or links?

  • Is the language inflammatory?

  • Think about the tone of the page.

What do others say? Find out what other web pages link to this page.

  • Use alexa.com:
  • Type or paste the URL into alexa.com's search box.
  • Click on the "Get details" button.

Is the site you’re thinking of using as credible and useful as the resources (books, journal articles, etc.) available in print or online through the library?

Another Way to Look @ Website Evaluation

Make sure you are in the right place.

  • Does the site address the topic you are researching?

  • Did you learn anything?

  • Did the site present information in a balanced manner? 

When in doubt, do not use the information.

  • Is the information on the site documented?

  • Do you think it is accurate?

  • Did authors indicate their research methods or provide any supportive evidence for their conclusions? 

Consider the source.

  • Who are the authors of the Web page?

  • What gives them their expertise?

  • Are the authors and their credentials clearly identified?

  • Is this a commercial, governmental, personal, or academic Web site? 

Know what's happening.

  • What is the main purpose of the site: to inform, to persuade, or to sell you something?

  • Is the site's text well written?

  • Do you understand what is being said?

  • Based on what you already know about your topic, what do you think has not been said that should be addressed? 

Look at details.

  • Is the site well organized?

  • Is all the information you needed on the top page or easily found on another page within the site?

  • Are there misspelled words or examples of poor grammar and do the site's links work?

  • Are the graphics on the page clear and helpful or distracting and confusing? 

Distinguish Web pages from pages found on the Web.

  • Do you think this page was designed for the Web, or do you think it was originally something else?

  • If it was originally something else, what something else was it?