Authority & Authorship
Who is responsible for the site?
Who wrote it?
Is there contact information?
Is there biographical information?
What are the author’s or publishing body’s credentials?
Is this wbsite the product of an individual or the product of an organization (company, university, government, etc.)
What is the purpose of the site?
Is the information biased (presented through only one point of view)?
Take note the owner of the website.
- A corporate/company website – assume that the information will present the company in the most positive way
- If products are produced or sold by the owners of the URL–you’re looking at advertisements
- A website about a political figure—assume that it’s owned by either that figure’s party or the opposition
Is the information on a website produced by an organization with a political or philosophical agenda?
- Scientific information–trust medical or scientific associations over political associations.
- Extremist points of view are often difficult to detect. Some extremist sites are disguised to appear objective and educational.
Can the details on a site be verified? If it is a research document, does it include the raw data and an explanation of the research method(s) used?
Is the methodology outlined in the document appropriate to the topic? Is there enough information for the study to be duplicated for purposes of verification?
Documents that rely on other sources should link to them or list them in a bibliography.
Sources of non-published data used in the preparation of the study should be clearly identified.
Can the background information that was used be verified for accuracy?
Is the information current and timely?
Does the document state when the information was gathered?
Does the document inappropriately refer to outdated information (e.g., “Based on 1990 U.S. Census data”)?
Time-sensitive data should be updated regularly and the date of the latest update indicated.
Does the document include a date of copyright?
Ease of Use
Is the site easy to use and well organized?
Does it take a long time to load images?
How many clicks does it take to find what you want?
Does it include dead links?
Is the content written at a level that is appropriate for its intended audience?
Can you access the site on a regular basis?
Are there frequent “server unavailable” errors?